Discover Benelux, Issue 74, February 2020

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Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents FEBRUARY 2020




Lynn Van Royen Lynn Van Royen has been a familiar face on Belgian screens for over a decade now, and now thanks to the availability of hit Flemish series such as Hotel Beau Séjour on Channel 4’s on-demand service All4, she is making a name for herself on British shores. Between starring in a play about the artist Henry Darger and filming upcoming drama The Window in the UK, she spoke to us about her exciting upcoming projects.


Business Special: Asset Management, Private Equity and More The Benelux region is a prime location for international business and finance. This month, we meet the region’s experts in asset management, private equity and more.




Castles in the Benelux

Column, regulars and more We take a look at the month ahead in Benelux business, as well as profiling the companies you need to know about.


Nine of the best films shot in the Benelux With its beautifully preserved medieval towns, atmospheric castles and romantic waterways, the Benelux region has provided the perfect backdrop for some of cinema’s most unforgettable scenes. We countdown some of our favourite films shot in the Benelux.

Top (Inter)National Education: A World of Opportunities From inspiring international schools to higher education and way beyond, we bring you a selection of some of the best educational establishments in Belgium and Luxembourg.

Top Dutch Event Planning: An Exceptional Experience Are you hoping to make your next event exceptional? Then take a look at our guide to the finest event planners in the Netherlands.





Fashion Picks  |  8 Desirable Designs Out & About  |  82 Columns

The Benelux is home to some of Europe’s most fairytale-like landscapes. We step inside some of the region’s most breathtaking castles.

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  3

Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 74, February 2020

Executive Editor Thomas Winther

Eline Joling Elodie Noel Ingrid Opstad Kate Harvey Laura Gozzi Lauren Walker Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Maya Witters Michiel Stol Pierre Antoine Zahnd Stephanie Uwalaka Steve Flinders Stuart Forster

Creative Director Mads E. Petersen

Cover Photo © Steven Hendrix

Editor Anna Villeleger

Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Katia Sfihi Petra Foster Jan-Hein Mensink

Published 02.2020 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Uniprint

Copy-editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier Feature Writer Arne Adriaenssens Contributors Bas van Duren Colette Davidson Eddi Fiegel

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TY United Kingdom Phone: +44 207 407 1937 Email:

We are a media you can trust. The print circulation of Discover Benelux is audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which is the UK body for media measurement.

© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

4  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Welcome to the February issue. It’s awards season again, which means film fans can look forward to the usual emotional acceptance speeches, controversial snubs and glamorous red carpet looks. Later this month when the Oscars take place I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for the various Benelux hopefuls nominated for an award. For example, the Belgian short film, Une sœur (A Sister), has received a nod in the best live-action short film category. The powerful thriller has already made its mark on the international film festival circuit and stars Flemish film star Veerle Baetens, who coincidentally starred alongside this month’s cover star Lynn Van Royen in the 2017 psychological thriller series Tabula Rasa. Van Royen is no stranger to awards herself — she won Outstanding Actress in a Drama TV Series at the 2018 Monte Carlo TV Festival for her role playing Kato Hoeven in the hit Belgian series Hotel Beau Séjour. Following on from the success of Hotel Beau Séjour — which counts none other than Stephen King among its fans — I spoke to Van Royen about her exciting upcoming projects, including soccer drama The Window, which explores the lucrative business surrounding professional soccer. Continuing with the dramatic theme, this month we also countdown some of our favourite films to have been shot in the Benelux. We had to include some of the obvious ones such as In Bruges and Girl with a Pearl Earring, but there are a few in there which may surprise you. For example, who knew part of the 2015 thriller Colonia, about the Chilean military coup of 1973, was actually filmed in Luxembourg? Head to page 78 to find out more. I hope you enjoy the magazine and are perhaps inspired to plan a Benelux themed movie night. Happy reading/viewing!

Anna Villeleger, Editor

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks


Blue is the new black! It is official; this year it is all about classic blue. This is a versatile shade which helps bring peace and tranquility. Use this deep hue for a calm vibe and you won’t go wrong. Go all out with a jumper, or add a touch of classic blue in the form of smaller accessories for a subtle nod to the trend. TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD  |  PRESS PHOTOS

Cosy and chic A great way to add classic blue to your wardrobe this year is with a cosy knitted jumper, and since turtle necks are very chic, we think this pullover in royal blue from Tiger of Sweden is the perfect fit. Made from a merino wool blend, it will keep you warm and looking stylish. Pair it with a smart black skirt and leather boots for a classy look. Tiger of Sweden, ‘Kos’ pullover, €299 Tiger of Sweden, ‘Ovara’ skirt, €249 Tiger of Sweden, ‘Timone’ boots, €329 Shiny Eye La Maison Manoush is a French feminine brand which succeeded in the fashion world by breaking the rules and challenging conversations. The Shiny Eye watch is a unique and recognisable piece in the perfect shade of blue which will add that little extra to your outfit. Manoush, ‘Shiny Eye’ watch 2, €175

In the bag Thanks to its timeless design, the Leva bag from Dutch label Laauw will be a bag you can enjoy for years to come. A versatile accessory, it is portable as a shoulder bag or as a backpack. The bag is designed with passion for quality and love for beauty. It is made with concern for our planet, too; the leather is tanned in an ecological way. Laauw, ‘Leva’ bag, €199 6  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks

Essential The Titanium collection from Belgium brand Noeizo is designed to be practical, yet be classic at the same time, providing comfort and style throughout your next trip. It features an ergonomic back, discreet pockets, dual trolley strap and smart storage compartments for business or personal essentials. Noeizo, ‘Titanium’ backpack, €220

Sole man A pair of blue trainers are a great alternative to black, and will keep you right on trend this season. This minimalistic shoe from Amsterdam-based fashion label Filling Pieces is a timeless classic updated with subtle, grain-textured leather uppers and contemporary sole. A shoe that bridges the gap between streetwear and high-end fashion perfectly. Filling Pieces, ‘Mondo’ ripple grain sneaker, €190

Keep it classic Get the look with a blue checked shirt and classic jeans. For the environmentally friendly fashion brand Boomerang, it is important to create collections that are long-lasting with great-quality materials – fashion that never goes out of style. The brand also works with the Boomerang Effect, where customers can give back clothes they have worn which will then be sold in their own online vintage shop. Boomerang, ‘Blitzen’ check shirt, approx €160 Boomerang, ‘Oscar’ five pocket jeans, approx €123

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  7

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs


The first date With February being the month of love, mating season is open in the world of dating. To make a great first impression, being on your best behaviour and cracking a joke every now and then is a great start. Yet, to really lure Cupid to your home, you had better turn your bachelor pad into a potential love nest. Date-proof your dwellings this Valentine’s Day with these romantic items. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PRESS PHOTOS


3. Love letter

1. For every mood…


There’s no such thing as too many scented candles, but you have to light the right ones. That’s why candle brand Spaas has designed 12 ‘Moments of Life’ scents. With names like Joyful Excitement, Secret Fantasy and Sensual Blush, they set any mood you desire. €5.50

Despite all the digital communication tools we have at our disposal, nothing beats the romantic charm of the handwritten word. These quirky cards by Somaj will make hearts melt and mouths smile. €3

5. Uncork in style To really impress, you don’t just need a nice bottle of wine, you also need to be able to open it in style. This Millesim Jewellery corkscrew is handmade with gold, rare wood and exceptional leather, turning the oenophile’s staple into a fabulous gem to not only use, but to look at, too. Price upon request

2. Close corners If your date goes well and you move to the sofa, you’ll love the cute Love Sofa from Moooi. It has one metre of seating space – just big enough for two romantic souls and plenty of butterflies. From €3,254

2. 3.

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5. 4. Say it with flowers As a romantic gesture, flowers are second to none. Yet, dare to be different and present your red roses in the quirky Bell-Jar Vase. Not only does the minimalist glasswork complement all sorts of flowers, but in the small void in the bottom, you can also add a small personal item … or even a ring. €99


Asset management, private equity and more Thanks to its political stability, multilingual environment and position at the heart of Europe, the Benelux region is a prime location for international business and finance. This month, we meet the region’s experts in asset management, private equity and more. PHOTOS: PEXELS

10  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Meet the Experts in Asset Management, Private Equity and More

Connecting with the world The Benelux region offers a wide range of financial services connecting investors and markets internationally. For example, Luxembourg’s distinctive cross-border expertise attracts financial service providers from all over the world, while the country’s capital markets infrastructure makes it the perfect location for companies of various types and sizes to finance their activities both in Europe and further afield. From private equity and venture capital, to hedge funds and real estate funds, the Benelux region’s international business environment is thriving. It is no surprise that so many of the world’s top asset managers have chosen the Benelux as the centre for their international fund ranges. Benefits of the Benelux: – Innovative environment for start-ups – Cross-border expertise – Strong economy and job security – Low public debt – Robust ICT ecosystem – Multilingual environment – International reach

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  11

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Meet the Experts in Asset Management, Private Equity and More

Spirit Asset Management


Drawing expertise from every corner of the respected Luxembourg banking sector, Spirit Asset Management nurtures close relationships with clients, partners and families alike — to ensure a complete and honest approach to wealth management.

Bridging the gap between institutional investors and international asset management companies, Luxembourg-based ifsam is one of the world’s most seamless intermediaries in the fund distribution chain.



Luxembourg’s OmniTrust is just the right size — large enough to handle a comprehensive range of fiduciary and administrative requirements, but small enough to be flexible and friendly.

United is an independent service provider with nine offices worldwide, two of which are in the Benelux. The company was founded in 2009 by a group of financial industry veterans with years of experience working for large multinational banks.



Headquartered in Paris and with offices all across Europe but also in Hong Kong, Canada and Latin-America, CACEIS has established itself as a true European leader in asset servicing and is one of the key players internationally.

The challenges of the financial sector are plentiful: regulations become increasingly complex; and technological developments shake up the industry. Prisma delivers financial documents to support clients in their endeavour to wow investors; and comply with any local regulations.

LPEA Luxembourg is quickly becoming a hub for Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capital (VC) activity. To meet the increased appetite from investors for PE, the Luxembourg Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (LPEA) has positioned itself as a guiding force for PE and VC practitioners across the country. 12  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

A wealth manager that moves with the times TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: SPIRIT ASSET MANAGEMENT

There’s no need to overcomplicate the future of your estate. Drawing expertise from every corner of the respected Luxembourg banking sector, Spirit Asset Management nurtures close relationships with clients, partners and families alike – to ensure a complete and honest approach to wealth management. We spoke to co-managers, François-Régis Montazel and Caroline Quéré, to find out what they have planned for 2020 and beyond.

Excellent connections throughout Luxembourg Luxembourg’s financial centre is built upon three key pillars: professionalism, competence, and strict regulation under the CSSF. So, when Spirit Asset Management was established there in 2015, its founding entrepreneurs based their company on the same principles. “It is these values that our customers are ultimately searching for,” explains M. Quéré. And while its wealth management company remains fully independent, it regularly 14  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

engages with the local community of global service providers. For example, it has delegated its external auditing process to KPMG Luxembourg, and its internal audit to Deloitte Luxembourg. Such is the spirit of operating in such a compact hub. “Luxembourg’s international environment and outstanding infrastructure make it highly attractive for investors.”

Tailor-made solutions at the heart of Europe Thanks to rigorous European legislation such as the MIFID II regulation, working with Spirit AM guarantees complete transparency across investments, costs and reporting. Its “discretionary management” and “advisory” mandates allow clients to invest openly in the universe of investment funds and assets available. The open architecture that drives Spirit AM means that clients’ assets can be invested in third parties, but also in funds managed by Spirit AM: “The funds we select are managed by the largest international companies in Luxembourg,” reveals M.

Montazel. They are selected on qualitative criteria alone, and according to the needs of each client.

Wealth planning according to each client Clients appreciate Spirit’s paternal role when it comes to wealth planning. “We’re there not only to manage assets, but also to explain how it works,” says M. Montazel. Spirit Asset Management operates on a tripartite relationship with its banking partners: “Our clients sign a mandate with us which authorises Spirit AM to manage their assets – and that alone. Clients, as account holders, maintain the relationship with the bank for all other banking activities,” explains M. Montazel. Its banking network extends throughout Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium – and each client receives a customised solution based on their profile.

A family company, above all else With a generational shift underway, it’s no wonder that clients are searching for the

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Meet the Experts in Asset Management, Private Equity and More

best wealth solutions for their loved ones. Spirit Asset Management has accompanied families over several generations, thanks to over 30 years of experience on the Luxembourg circuit for some of their customer relationship officers: “We like to meet each family member to get to know them better, and therefore serve them better,” says M. Quéré. Spirit takes an educational approach to inheritance planning; offering advice on how to diversify inheritance and protect future generations in uncertain times. It spends a lot of time explaining how different financial products work; “which clients really appreciate,” M. Quéré continues. Many of its clients require family wealth planning, and Spirit is a firm believer in generating stable performance with minimum risk. Just before the financial crisis of 2008, Spirit launched its own ‘Ganador Spirit Invest’ fund, which effectively allows clients to see just how well it manages risk in difficult contexts. Clients are therefore guaranteed a long and fruitful relationship in the hands of the highly competent team.

Riding the waves of change The digital age has arrived, and there’s no turning back in sight. SAM has wholeheart-

edly embraced such changes by reinventing the traditional private banking model. It offers new and high-tech services in partnership with depositary banks – that are particularly attractive for the millennial generation. Its motto is to ‘make complex easy’, which is why it also offers three different profiles for investors: fixed-income, balanced and growth. Each profile is flexible and scalable, following an in-depth discussion with the client. It seems there has never been a better time to invest.

Expanding a highly skilled team of experts “In terms of performance, 2019 has been an exceptional year for Spirit Asset Management,” M. Montazel reveals. Keen to grow in such promising conditions, the multilingual team of experts is now recruiting experienced managers who share SAM’s entrepreneurial spirit. Don’t hesitate to get in contact and/ or visit the Spirit Asset Management website: Email:

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  15

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Meet the Experts in Asset Management, Private Equity and More

Your independent B2B fund platform TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: IFSAM S.A.

Bridging the gap between institutional investors and international asset management companies, Luxembourgbased ifsam S.A. is one of the world’s most seamless intermediaries in the fund distribution chain.

Uniting the local and global As one of the first independent B2B fund platforms, ifsam S.A. has mastered the subtle art of fund business. Upon opening an account, clients are guaranteed immediate connection to an important fund network; one which already contains over 125,000 funds from more than 40 different domiciles. Managing partner and co-founder Luc Duarte likens ifsam S.A. to “your very own cooperative partner”; one that executes fund orders, manages the custody of fund shares, and negotiates distribution agreements on your behalf. With a worldwide clientele of international banks, private banks, wealth managers and insurance companies, ifsam S.A. places clients at the heart of the global fund community.

Working hand in hand with asset managers Its fountain of resources does not stop 16  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

there. ifsam S.A. can also help asset managers to streamline their own distribution process, thanks to the large number of institutional investors using its services. “We help asset managers to promote their products to ifsam S.A. customers, while satisfying their ‘Know-Your-Distributor’ obligations. The possibilities are endless thanks to our ever-growing international network.”

Making the complex simple ifsam S.A. are industry experts in all things fund-related. Whether they are mutual funds, hedge/alternative funds or ETFs, clients are guaranteed specialist advice. “Operationally, we act as a onestop-shop,” explains Mr Duarte, and we can handle all types of funds – from the easiest to the most complex. Thanks to a network of over 1,000 depository accounts, each client receives a custom-fit solution when it comes to sub-custodian services. They are also willing to step in and negotiate dedicated distribution agreements when necessary, and can also “provide independent fund research to help cus-

tomers select the most promising funds,” says Mr Duarte.

Worlds apart from other fund platforms Headquartered in Luxembourg, ifsam S.A. develops longstanding relationships, no matter the vision. Its exceptional degree of flexibility is what sets the firm apart from the rest. “We will always go the extra mile for our clients and partners: whether they need a new connectivity channel, or even if they would like to access ‘white labelled solutions’.”

In 2020 and beyond With the turn of a new decade, ifsam S.A. continues to improve the experience for clients and partners. For clients, this means enhanced fund research capabilities, a promising ETF offering and a growing network in Asia. And for asset managers or management companies, the firm plans to further support its distributor oversight responsibilities. Getting involved in third-party funds business has never been so easy.


Luxembourg’s OmniTrust is just the right size – large enough to handle a comprehensive range of fiduciary and administrative requirements, but small enough to be flexible and friendly. List the administrative tasks that entrepreneurs and corporate leaders know have to be done, but would really prefer someone else handled, and you’ll pretty much summarise what Luxembourg’s OmniTrust has been designed to do. “People who head companies want to focus on building a stronger business,” says Aurore Calvi, OmniTrust’s CEO, “so their time is generally best spent finding new opportunities, meeting new challenges, reaching out in new directions. That’s made easier if they can let someone else take all or some of the load of those fiduciary, regulatory and paperwork requirements that underpin an organisation, and keep it in good standing with the authorities. That’s what we at OmniTrust do.” 18  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Professional expertise Mme Calvi has been operating in this sector in Luxembourg for nearly 20 years, experience that has given her a vision of the support that clients need, and how best to deliver it. She was delighted when last year the opportunity arose to acquire and head up OmniTrust. “The business has been in this field since 1993,” she explains, “and it has great people working for it, among them lawyers and accountants who’ve worked in ‘big four’ accountancy firms, stockmarket quoted fiduciary organisations, and major law practises.”

and providing timely and accurate internal data. With such information more readily to hand, stakeholders, especially senior management and shareholders, can operate with greater certainty and efficacy.


Second, and perhaps even more significant, is a desire to put the client at the heart of how OmniTrust interacts with them. “Ours is a human-scale firm, flexible and agile,” says Calvi, “In total, we’re 19 professionals, and our goal is always to work in partnership with clients. It’s not the ‘billings’ mindset that some leviathan organisations have. And we aim to grow long-term relationships by having the same people remain involved, instead of, as can too often be the case with massive providers, clients constantly seeing new faces. Likewise, we adapt to their culture rather than imposing ours.”

The first is to embrace and facilitate the digitisation of VAT, tax, accounting and other reporting functions, thereby simultaneously meeting external legal obligations

And the third strand in the philosophy is to focus not just on short-term profitability for the client, but to embrace a more

Her vision in the simplest terms is to ease the administrative load of OmniTrust’s clients, with clear routes to that goal.

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Meet the Experts in Asset Management, Private Equity and More

holistic approach, providing added value through strategic input, working side by side to support as advisors in a multitude of ways.

Local and international There is something of a paradox about the Luxembourg business environment. On the one hand it’s one of the smallest countries in Europe; on the other it is perhaps Europe’s most international market, increasingly important as a centre for corporate headquarters. For companies from outside the country, that means it makes sense to work with a truly local fiduciary and business services partner, one with excellent personal contacts and networks in place: for example, to assist in finding great office space (and in the

thriving Luxembourg market that can be far from easy), or with knowing the ropes when obtaining business licences. OmniTrust can offer those national connections, but it also has an international outlook. “Along with our Luxembourg clientele, we have major links with French, British, Belgian, Italian, US, Chinese and Russian clients,” says Calvi, “and it’s a point of honour with us, as far as is possible, to interact with them in their mother tongue. All our team members are at least bilingual, and along with the languages needed for the markets just mentioned, we offer German, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish, for example.” That same international outlook and that belief in the power of local contacts is

reflected in OmniTrust’s participation in the Kreston network, some 200 firms engaged in similar activities to theirs across 125 countries. The future looks bright for the firm, strengthening its position in the Luxembourg market and doing more and more business with international organisations drawn to it. But Mme Calvi has plans for OmniTrust to continue to evolve and develop: “We’re preparing an extension to our service portfolio, again to help us in being not only a client’s fiduciary agent, but also their day-to-day partner. It’s too soon to give greater detail, but obviously we think it will add value to what we do.” Watch this space.

OmniTrust’s Main Activities – Accountancy – Tax and VAT compliance – Office facilities and registered addresses – Payroll administration – Regulatory services – Luxembourg directors – Interim or longer-term staff – Company secretarial function – Business set-up formalities – Liquidation

Aurore Calvi.

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  19


On the cutting edge of modern finance TEXT: UNITED  |  PHOTOS: PEXELS

Looking for cross-border financial services with a personal touch and a hightech twist? Meet United, ten years young but packing a wealth of expertise, plus a passion to keep its clients – multinationals, investment industry players and wealthy individuals – successful and, above all, compliant. United is an independent service provider with nine offices worldwide, two of which are in the Benelux. To find out more, let’s hear from directors Marius de Groot (Netherlands) and Gérard Matheis (Luxembourg). The company was founded in 2009 by a group of financial industry veterans (including Matheis) with years of experience working for large multinational banks. Their drive was — and is — to 20  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

provide truly personal service, and they are still the backbone of United. By now, United’s workforce has grown to some 150 legal, financial and IT experts.

can choose to outsource more or less to us over time, our services always blend seamlessly with their processes.”

Truly personal

The name United was chosen for a reason, Matheis explains. “It reflects our strong team spirit and the essence of what we do: unite disciplines, connect networks and cross borders to create the best solutions for our clients. Our people worldwide, management included, work closely together to give our clients the benefit of every office’s particular strengths.” But teamwork doesn’t stop there, De Groot observes. “Our experts are an extension of our client’s team, working side by side with them to help their business thrive.”

Asked what they mean by “truly personal”, de Groot replies: “Our people start from day one with their own client portfolio. Their mission: to get to know their clients and their needs, to become partners rather than just service providers, shouldering the responsibility that implies.” Matheis nods, adding: “Corporates and fund initiators like us because of our ‘boutique’ offering. We can create a custom service package for them, including only the services they want. Because they

Team spirit

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Meet the Experts in Asset Management, Private Equity and More

Headquarters United’s headquarters are in the Netherlands — a choice with many benefits. “The Netherlands has a long history of international commerce. In IT terms, it’s one of the world’s most wired countries and home to numerous IT multinationals,” De Groot explains. “Today, Amsterdam is a hotspot for fintech and start-ups in general, while the pension system makes it a hub for large institutional investors. As an EU jurisdiction, it offers a wide variety of legal structures and tax treaties. Plus, the Netherlands is at the forefront of developments in compliance.”

Business mix All United’s offices are a one-stop shop offering the full suite of financial and legal services, but they each have their specialties. “In Luxembourg, fund services now account for 30 per cent of our business,” says Matheis. “In the current low-interest environment, private equity and venture capital funds have become increasingly popular, and a lot of these new funds work with United.” The Netherlands office increasingly supports companies from the US — and in

future, likely also from the UK — seeking an operational hub in the EU. “Another growth niche,” De Groot adds, “is facilitating M&A deals for private equity firms.”

Compliance Core business for United is keeping clients compliant in the face of constantly changing regulations. Matheis gives an example: “The introduction in 2013 of AIFMD (alternative investment fund managers directive) led many offshore funds to onshore their operations in Luxembourg. United responded with a tailored, modular service offering, which has gained recognition and a serious base of loyal clients in the fund space.” The Netherlands, meanwhile, is the most heavily regulated jurisdiction in Europe, and the only country with specific legislation aimed at trust offices, De Groot observes. “The practical implications are challenging, but the clients who come to us know this, and understand that heavier regulation involves higher costs. At its foundation, United made a voluntary decision to adhere to the heaviest regulation in the financial industry, and our success in doing so is certified year after year by a

Marius de Groot.

Big Four accounting firm. Our clients, in their turn, deserve nothing less.”

Advances in IT Asked what trends they see for the years ahead, Matheis replies: “When United was founded, we expected compliance would become key, and we were right. Its importance will only increase going forward. Meanwhile, work processes in our industry are in many cases still very paper-based, so companies will need better IT to operate more efficiently.” De Groot agrees. “When we complete the group-wide IT projects we’re working on at United now – including the implementation of a brand-new AI-based compliance decision platform called Pascal – we’ll have a truly state-of-theart IT infrastructure, speeding up our processes and giving our people more time to spend on personal contact with their clients. That will pave the way for expansion into other jurisdictions and create a solid foundation for our further success going forward.”

Gérard Matheis.

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  21

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Meet the Experts in Asset Management, Private Equity and More Photo: Rienk Toorman

Olivier Storme.

A truly global asset servicing partner TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: CACEIS

Headquartered in Paris and with offices all across Europe but also in Hong Kong, Canada and Latin-America, CACEIS is a renowned asset servicing bank, specialising in the whole post-trade functions related to all asset classes. Following the recent strategic combination of CACEIS and Santander Securities Services, we spoke to Olivier Storme, country managing director of CACEIS in Belgium and head of regional coverage for Belgium, Luxembourg & Nordic countries, to find out more about the firm’s innovative product offering and international growth.

some functions which are centralised (IT, custody, banking, etc.) mainly in France or in Luxembourg, but with many others which remain at local level with their own “identity”, able to adapt accordingly to meet the needs and culture of the client. With a solid IT infrastructure, CACEIS provides execution, clearing, custody, depositary and asset valuation services in markets worldwide to support institutional and corporate clients in meeting their business development goals, being in vanilla assets, derivatives, securitisation, real-estate or private equity.

Founded in France in 2005 on the basis of the asset servicing activities of Crédit Agricole and Caisses d’Epargnes, CACEIS has established itself as a true European leader in asset servicing and is one of the key players internationally.

“Our two Belgium entities consist of a smaller but very agile team of 50 staff,” says the financier. “The complete set of services is proposed locally to our clients; our team is well equipped to act quickly and provide clients with whatever solutions and answers they are looking for.”

As Olivier Storme explains, CACEIS is an important group of 4,100 staff with

The future continues to look bright for CACEIS, which has seen steady growth

22  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

in terms of assets, clients and geographical coverage in the last few years. “We keep-on benefiting from the full support of our shareholders to continue to grow.” The acquisition of KAS BANK in 2019 bolstered the company’s position in the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom, bringing vast expertise in pension funds to the range of services offered to institutional and asset management companies. What Olivier Storme describes as a “great year” for the company was topped off with the combination of CACEIS and Santander Securities Services (S3) in late December. The group is now even better placed to capture growth in high potential markets, such as Spain and Latin America, and offers clients a truly global service proposition. To find out more about CACEIS visit:

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Meet the Experts in Asset Management, Private Equity and More

Democratising and demystifying private equity TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTOS: LPEA

While the concept of private equity can seem intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. The Luxembourg Private Equity and Venture Capital Association aims to make the practice accessible to a wider community, through education and public advocacy. Luxembourg is quickly becoming a hub for Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capital (VC) activity, thanks to its political stability, business mindset and professional ecosystem with crossborder expertise. To meet the increased appetite from investors for PE, the Luxembourg Private

Equity and Venture Capital Association (LPEA) has positioned itself as a guiding force for PE and VC practitioners across the country. The LPEA regularly leads workshops, networking events and other trainings in order to inform those looking to gain expertise in PE/ VC, with the ultimate objective of protecting the interests of its members and promote Luxembourg as an international hub. Their annual Insights Conference, held this year on 12 May, looks to share with attendees the PE/VC investment trends as well as how and where to invest in the space, by

showcasing leading international investors. The Prime Minister of Luxembourg will lead the opening speech. “Most international PE/VC investment firms have a domicile here in Luxembourg,” says Rajaa Mekouar-Schneider, the CEO of LPEA. “So we are the place to structure their investments and understand what’s going on as well as the opportunities in the field, which includes mature investments but also Venture Capital and an ever wider range of investors.” With a largely international staff – speaking a total of 14 languages – the LPEA aims to bring professionals from different walks of life together towards a common goal. It offers three different membership options, aimed at investment firms, family offices and private banks from the investors´ side, as well as audit firms and lawyers, among others, on the advisers’ side.

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Meet the Experts in Asset Management, Private Equity and More

Setting the gold standard in financial communication TEXT: LAURA GOZZI  |  PHOTOS: PRISMA xxx

The challenges of the financial sector are plentiful: regulations become increasingly complex; and technological developments shake up the industry. Prisma delivers financial documents to support clients in their endeavour to wow investors; and comply with any local regulations. Prisma is an expert at laying the solid foundations that every business needs to thrive, providing services ranging from specialised project management to financial translations to support with the production and dissemination of financial documents. The Prisma team is highly experienced: the company was founded in 2006 and now services 26 key players in the mutual fund industry in Luxembourg, the UK, Ireland, France, Germany and Singapore. Based in Luxembourg, they boast a translation portfolio offering all Western European and most Asian and Middle Eastern languages, catering to the dynamic finance community at the heart of Europe. There is no run-of-the-mill solution at Prisma. Every client deserves a personalised approach, fully integrated in their way of working. Asset managers face high 24  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

demands from regulators and investors alike. Prisma can alleviate the pressure by simplifying the production of prospectus updates, forms and KIIDs, all while promising to keep stakeholders informed and satisfied. The complex logistics of annual general meetings can also be taken care of, relieving businesses from the burden of having to juggle the needs of several parties.

core, with values of integrity and ethical behaviour taking centre stage. “We didn’t need a management decision or approval to adopt a corporate social responsibility approach,” they say. “Sustainability – whether social, economic or environmental – is a part of our identity.” A comprehensive list of over a dozen charitable initiatives and partners is available on Prisma’s website.

By offering global distribution support, Prisma arranges the filing of regulatory documents in a variety of jurisdictions. The Prisma approach handles client needs first in all production stages, from translation to the distribution of the documents.

Prisma’s New Year’s resolutions are ambitious and clear: ensuring that all agreed deadlines are always met without compromising on flexibility, communicating in a courteous, friendly and professional manner, and being a trustworthy and reliable partner to all clients.

If you’re looking to attract investors, Prisma can help with fact sheets and marketing brochures: an investment in your sales tools pays off on the long run. Prisma’s promise is to exceed expectations by running the support services with as little client involvement as possible, leaving you to focus on your business. With many firms playing catch-up in terms of sustainability, it’s reassuring that social responsibility has always been at Prisma’s

If the last 14 years are anything to go by, Prisma is right on track to honour its resolutions and continue setting the gold standard in financial communication. Prisma S.A. 8-10, rue Jean Monnet L-2180 Luxembourg Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg Tel: (+352) 43 48 89 – 1

T O P ( I N T E R ) N AT I O N A L E D U C AT I O N

A world of opportunities From inspiring international schools to higher education and way beyond, in the following pages we bring you a selection of some of the best educational establishments in Belgium and Luxembourg. PHOTOS: PIXABAY

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Discover Benelux  |  Top (Inter)National Education  |  A World of Opportunities

Education is about far more than just supplying knowledge: a good school provides the groundwork for our future happiness and success, and the benefits of studying in Belgium and Luxembourg are numerous. One of the main advantages is that they both are multilingual countries.

Global community Luxembourg is a diverse, vibrant country, which people of various nationalities call home. This multiculturalism is reflected nowhere better than at the École Internationale de Mondorf-les-Bains

(EIMLB). The school may have only opened in September 2018, yet it has already earned a strong reputation, thanks not only to its pioneering pedagogical practices, but also due to the palpable sense of community amid pupils and staff.

World-renowned In neighbouring Belgium, you will find an array of world-class establishments, new and old, whatever your area of interest. For example, there is Vlerick, which was founded in 1953 and is renowned for being one of Europe’s finest business schools. The Institute of Tropical

Medicine Antwerp is at the forefront of research and education when it comes to global diseases. Its research and partnership with countries around the world has helped bolster its medical services and improve public health, according to their motto of ‘global science for a healthier world’.

A better future There are many more pioneering establishments such as Sustainability College Bruges (SCB), which was founded in light of the Sustainable Development Goals of 2015. These global resolutions should make our lifestyle more sustainable by the year 2030.

History Meanwhile, do not miss our article on the Ghent University Museum (GUM), which will open its doors for the first time on 21 and 22 March 2020. The idea for the museum formed out of Ghent University’s enormous collection of artefacts. Since the university opened its doors in 1817, it has collected over 400,000 official pieces. Whether you are looking to find the perfect school for your child, are in the process of selecting your next stage of education, or are simply seeking food for thought, this month’s special guide is well worth a read. This array of inspiring establishments will provide the necessary foundations for a prosperous future. Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  27

Putting community at the heart of multilingual learning TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: EIMLB / PATRIK BITOMSKY

Luxembourg is a diverse, vibrant country, which people of various nationalities call home. This multiculturalism is reflected nowhere better than at the École Internationale de Mondorf-les-Bains (EIMLB), situated in the country’s desirable Moselle region. The state-run international school, which is divided into a primary section (French and English) and secondary section (French, English and German), may have only opened in September last year, yet it has already earned a strong reputation, thanks not only to its pioneering pedagogical practices, but also due to the palpable sense of community amid pupils and staff. 28  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

EIMLB counts more than 20 nationalities among its student body, and is proud of its multicultural outlook. “We stress that each class should go for at least one pedagogical trip abroad per year. This could be skiing, or a visit to a major European city,” begins the school’s director Camille Weyrich.

Open to the world

“One of the strongest aspects of the European offer is the emphasis on language,” notes the director. As an ‘Accredited European School’, EIMLB offers the European Schools’ curriculum, which emphasises a multilingual and multicultural pedagogical approach. This leads to students leaving secondary school with the bilingual European Baccalaureate diploma.

The school follows the ‘European offer’, which was put into place by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Education. The European offer is public, and aims for social, democratic and cultural integration, highlighting the position of the school as a social elevator and as the impetus of the European spirit.

In terms of languages, the EIMLB offers students several choices. In the first year of primary school there are two language sections: French and English. Except for language classes, all subjects are taught in the language of the section. Students choose their first language (learned

Discover Benelux  |  Top (Inter)National Education  |  A World of Opportunities

at native level) from French, German, English and Portuguese. “This allows most students to use their native language at school,” explains the director. Students choose their second language from French, German and English. In secondary school, students chooses a third language among French, German, English and Portuguese. Then, in the fourth year of secondary school, a fourth language is taught as an option. Learning Luxembourgish is also compulsory for all pupils in primary school, and in the lower classes of secondary school.

The Dalton Plan In addition to the importance of language and communication, a major influence at EIMLB is the Dalton Plan, a teaching concept developed by American educator Helen Parkhurst (1887-1974). As a young teacher at a rural American school, Parkhurst was faced with the challenge of having to teach a diverse range of students aged from four to 14 in one class. Unable to meet the needs of each individual pupil using traditional teaching methods, Parkhurst created a course principle that allowed students to take ownership of content as independently and individually as possible, by working as often as possible in pairs, groups and autonomously. As Parkhurst discovered, when pupils follow their own interests, it has a huge influence on their individual rhythm and the learning success of each person. The school she founded in New York still exists to this day, and is one of the most esteemed schools in the United States, with an array of wellknown names from the arts, business and law amid its alumni. While there are similarities to Maria Montessori’s child-centred educational approach, which is favoured in many primary schools, the Dalton Plan is especially well suited to independent learning in secondary pupils, and has been implemented in schools across the world. “At EIMLB we embrace the principles of the Dalton Plan, while following our own path in its pedagogical design,” reveals Mr Weyrich. ‘Freedom within a framework’, responsibility, cooperation and autono-

my all form the guidelines of education at EIMLB.

Collaboration While more traditional courses are also followed at the school, students are introduced to independent learning and cooperation with their peers. The goal is to reduce classes where the teacher is the sole focus, with an increased emphasis on the individual interest of each student and their own learning process. “This means the role of the teacher becomes less about providing discipline, and more about advising students in their learning.” Pupils are encouraged to interact and work constructively together – collaboration is at the heart of the learning experience. “It’s about the pupils working to support each other. The focus shouldn’t

be on the pupil as a ‘lone warrior’,” points out Mr Weyrich. Unlike traditional group work, students at EIMLB partake in a type of small group learning called ‘cooperative learning’, where each student has a responsibility for the group’s learning process. This creates a positive interdependency between the group members and has a positive effect on social interaction, as well as on the group’s academic results. Courses at EIMLB are organised in blocks of double lessons, meaning the number of subjects per day is limited and provides pupils with the necessary time to deal with a topic in depth, to practice and to review. “Pupils will deal with no more than three to five topics per day, with lessons only ever featuring a maximum of 45 minutes’ worth of traditional teaching,” notes Mr Weyrich. Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  29

Discover Benelux  |  Top (Inter)National Education  |  A World of Opportunities

Putting students at the centre For each six-week learning phase, teachers develop a detailed learning plan for their subjects and classes which can be customised for the particular needs of each student, depending on whether they are particularly gifted in one area or need extra help. “This approach really puts the child at the centre of their education, and gives them the time they need to get to grips with their learning. Some students need more time to focus on the basics, while others work faster and wouldn’t be challenged in a traditional lesson. The teacher can come up with special challenges for extraperforming students.” Learning plans are primarily implemented in the form of disciplinary or interdisciplinary projects called assignments. For each objective, students have enough educational material to practice and also check for themselves to what extent they have mastered a certain subject. “Working autonomously gives the student the chance to see how well they have understood the lesson, and if they have any problems they can ask their teacher.”

Independence The autonomy really comes into play with the pupils’ self-study periods, which happen during 12 lessons per week. During these sessions, teachers remain in the classroom, while pupils have the opportunity to work independently or visit

whichever teacher they may benefit from during that time. “This is a perfect opportunity for students who couldn’t keep up in the lesson to seek the support of their teacher. For example, a student could be advanced in English but require more support in maths, so during their autonomous session they could go to their maths teacher. This flexible timetable is a great way to cater for everyone without having to change the specific timetable,” enthuses the director.

Dalton Diary Each learner is responsible for managing their own Dalton Diary, in which they can

plan their individual learning process, plot their development goals and reflect on what they have learned at the end of each six-week period. Students are responsible for keeping their Dalton Diary up-to-date, and it forms an important link between teachers, students and parents.

Innovation After the successful introduction of iPads in classes this year, September will see the end of traditional paper workbooks for secondary school pupils. “Of course handwriting will always be important, but technology will always be important, too – even more so in the future. It has been astonishing how quickly both the teachers and students have adapted to the iPad. They soon lost all their fears.”

Personal harmony Pupils at EIMLB are provided with a framework to ensure they develop their own sense of personal harmony. “We want to make sure students feel at ease at school,” insists the school’s assistant director Stephan Dumange. In the first three classes of secondary school, pupils are given their own ‘coach’ who they meet with every Friday to discuss any problems they might be having, as well as the positive aspects of their week. Furthermore, pupils have their own portfolio where they reflect in collaboration with their tutor on skills they have developed 30  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Discover Benelux  |  Top (Inter)National Education  |  A World of Opportunities

outside of traditional school subjects. This could be related to 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration. “This portfolio could prove to be more interesting to future employers than a student’s actual school results,” muses Mr Weyrich.

Democracy Citizenship is a key focus too, and pupils here learn to have a democratic spirit from an early age. For example, two representatives from each class regularly meet at the School Parliament to debate issues affecting the school community and the evolution of the school. “A democratic approach is practiced every day,” explains the director. “We want everyone to be involved in the processes and decisions that affect the school community.” The Parliament has a specific budget that it has to manage, helping pupils understand the importance of looking after finances. “It isn’t just a matter of teaching pupils about democratic structures, it’s about living within one,” points out Mr Weyrich. “The parliament offers us plenty of inspiration. When they have an idea about how things could be improved, we look to implement their feedback.” A class assembly also takes place every other week, providing pupils with an opportunity to address unanswered questions and discuss the needs of the class.

PowerPoint. “Even between children of the same cultural origin, differences in socialisation can appear, depending on the family environment and the environmental conditions in which the child is growing up,” explains Mr Dumange. “If differences are not explored, they can become misunderstood, and a cause of subconscious intolerances. So we decided that, once a year, we would have a day focusing on accepting the differences between all the types of people in the world.”

Self-expression Creativity is nurtured at EIMLB, with pupils being encouraged to express themselves. One of the ways in which they are motivated to do this is by the many opportunities for extra-curricular activities. “These help the pupils discover personal interests, which could be intellectual, creative or sporty. Just some of the activities include chess, drama, archery, robotics, or working on the school magazine,” reveals the director.

A school where tolerance flourishes Being compassionate and understanding are fundamental pillars at EIMLB, reflected by the school’s annual Acceptance Day. “One of the primary goals of any school should be to teach pupils about tolerance, respect and acceptance,” asserts Mr Weyrich. The first Acceptance Day took place on 10 May 2019, under the initiative of Mr Dumange. Pupils from both the primary cycle and the secondary cycle participated in Acceptance Day, with the school being transformed for half a day into a large platform of thematic workshops. Working in groups, pupils considered a main theme to discuss from a list of suggested examples of intolerance, such as xenophobia, homophobia and sexism, and gave presentations using a range of resources including video and Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  31

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Support service All primary pupils can enrol at the school’s education and support service, SEA, which is located in the school building and is open Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm. The children are welcomed at SEA before classes begin, they then spend lunchtime there with the socio-educational staff and their classmates. Meanwhile, in the afternoon there are various extracurricular activities, as well as free play and the opportunity to receive help with homework. “I used to say that in a ‘traditional’ school, life began when the bell rang at the end of the day. But we offer a full-day model from 7am to 7pm. Real life happens at school. It’s not all about academic activities, it’s about getting to know each other and developing interests,” enthuses Mr Weyrich. During the school holidays, SEA remains open, organising various activities for the children including workshops, sports and excursions. “The children go on various outings around Luxembourg and the neighbouring countries. Today, for example, they have gone to the Eifel National Park in Germany,” smiles the director.

Finding their vocation The secondary school also has a socio-educational service, MESA (which stands for Motivation, Education, Social, Accompanying) and organises socioeducation projects in close collaboration with the teachers, as well as coordinating extracurricular activities, and much more. A successful MESA scheme involves organising day-trips to specific locations related to pupils’ particular talents. These could be related to sport, technology or the arts. “This really helps foster students’ specific interests. It means everyone gets to know about ‘real life’ outside school,” concludes Mr Weyrich. “Our pupils gain a true understanding into how the world works.” École Internationale Mondorf-les-Bains 2, route de Burmerange L-5659 Mondorf-les-Bains

To find out more about EIMLB, visit:

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Discover Benelux  |  Top (Inter)National Education  |  A World of Opportunities

The practical academic way towards sustainability TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: SUSTAINABILITY COLLEGE BRUGES

Essentially, a school is an oasis of fact-based knowledge. In that spirit, professor Kurt Deketelaere has founded Sustainability College Bruges: an academy in the broadest sense of the word, where information about the feasibility of a durable lifestyle is gathered, used and spread. Sustainability College Bruges (SCB) was founded in light of the Sustainable Development Goals of 2015. These global resolutions should make our lifestyle more sustainable by the year 2030. “The Sustainability College Bruges looks into four themes within this pact,” says chairman Kurt Deketelaere. “These are energy, the environment, climate change and health and safety.” Unlike most think-tanks and academic organisations, SCB does not approach the subjects with a technological hat, but from a social sciences and humanities perspective. “Technology

evolves fast and I am sure we will solve the biggest sustainability issues soon. The question, however, is how these measurements will affect society. We gather the likes of legal experts, economists and philosophers to answer just that.” Alongside Deketelaere, 40 professors and experts from different fields work with Sustainability College Bruges. Together, they offer continuing education, research, mediation and advisory services. “In our education programme, we create customised training for companies, public institutions or students. We apply a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach and teach our material to the management of those companies and institutions, hoping they will implement it in their daily routines. Many of our projects have an intercontinental touch. Often, nonEuropean companies and governments ask us to organise training on the sub-

ject of European legislation and policy on sustainability for them.” Five years into the Sustainable Development Goals, Deketelaere believes in its chances of success. “This last decade, the awareness around sustainability has increased strongly. Most people now realise that it is time to act, and are willing to contribute to it. The world will not be perfect by 2030, but I do believe it will be a better place.”

A business school without borders TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: VLERICK

Today’s business scene is global. To prepare yourself well for a life in it, you had better roam the earth while studying. At Vlerick, the Benelux’ best business school, all students cross borders aplenty while improving their business skills. “Studying at Vlerick is so much more than just passively absorbing knowledge.” Since its foundation in 1953, Vlerick has grown to become one of Europe’s finest business schools. Where its initial goal was to stimulate entrepreneurship and ambition in Belgium, it now does so worldwide. Besides its three Belgian campuses in Brussels, Ghent and Leuven, it has alliances in New Delhi (India), Cape Town (South Africa) and Beijing (China). Here, as well, it provides 34  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

the same top-level education and research with a strong focus on innovation and digital transformation.

The world’s relevant business crossroads Furthermore, the lion’s share of their prestigious programmes has international allure galore. “Our Global Executive MBA, for example, is an unaltered global experience,” states Marion Debruyne, Dean of Vlerick. “It prepares our students to become tomorrow’s greatest in a unique and dynamic way.” Besides its five topical, online modules (which you can follow from home), the programme consists of six residential weeks where the students and teachers meet at the world’s most relevant business crossroads. Besides the two residential weeks in Belgium, the

students head to Spain, Brazil, Silicon Valley and South Korea. “Rather than gathering our international group of students on our own campuses, we prefer taking them to where the action happens and immersing them in it. We have unrooted Vlerick from its Belgian soil and elevated it to a global level. It is impossible to discover the global business scene while staying in one place.”

Personal development and action learning Where the Global Executive MBA is only for business professionals with at least ten years on the counter, younger business prodigies can start an international Vlerick adventure with the Masters in International Management and Strategy, a full-time, ten-month programme with

Discover Benelux  |  Top (Inter)National Education  |  A World of Opportunities

plenty of freedom. “Like most of our programmes, this Masters is built on two pillars. On the one hand, we focus on personal development. We guide our students towards a successful future, both personally and professionally. On the other hand, we invest in action learning. Studying at Vlerick is much more than passively absorbing information in auditoria. Our students research, participate, undergo simulations, play games… and travel, of course.” During the Masters in International Management and Strategy, students spend over three months abroad during a European Strategic Tour, a month-long global immersion in China and a two-month Global Strategic Consultancy Project in a country of their choosing. These international experiences combined with the great on-campus programme earned the Masters a global top-30-spot in the Financial Times’ prestigious Masters in Management ranking. In terms of language knowledge and international course experience, they even adorn the global top three.

Best of three schools Vlerick’s academic grand cru, however, is its Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), a unique PhD programme for which the business school joins forces with the prestigious universities KU Leuven and Ghent University. “This intense four-year programme combines the strengths of all three partner schools: it has a strong scientific base, the flexibility of a Vlerick

Dean Marion Debruyne.

programme and earns you a PhD diploma at the end of the line.” The first two years, you get modules about scientific study and research. The following two years, you spend researching and writing yourself.” Whereas a Doctorate is usually a full-time job, Vlerick’s DBA is meant to be done on top of a career. Ten years of working experience are required to start, yet, the average age of the doctoral students is closer to 40 or 50. “Many successful business people regret not having done a PhD before, to start their career. Our DBA is made for these life-long learners who feel the need to specialise in one aspect of their domain.”

Live, Learn, Leap Rather than offering a linear studying experience, Vlerick takes its students on so-called ‘learning journeys’. “Learning is like going on a holiday. First, you prepare for your trip by researching, exploring and dreaming about what awaits you; next, you have the interactive and exciting phase of studying and gaining knowledge. At most schools, this is where the journey ends. We, on the other hand, add a third chapter: the ripple effect. We want to see our alumni turn their newly gained wisdom into action. Vlerick people are enterprising leaders, who thrive in a fast-changing world.” Flying the flag ‘Live, Learn, Leap’, Vlerick’s journeys surpass the solely academic aspect of education and become genuine preparation for a blossoming career. “One of my favourite quotes is: ‘There is nothing as practical as a good theory’. An academic approach gives you a frame of reference which you can apply in the field, where everything is a bit foggier and less ideal. Knowing how to handle a situation in perfect circumstances is the ideal way to learn how to handle crises and solve problems. Actually, those two worlds are not as distant as you would think.”

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Discover Benelux  |  Top (Inter)National Education  |  A World of Opportunities

Director Marjan Doom. Photo: Sophie Nuytten


In walking distance from S.M.A.K and MSK Ghent, the city of Ghent will welcome a brand new science museum where facts, mistakes and confusion stand side by side to evoke doubt. The Ghent University Museum will open its doors for the first time on 21 and 22 March 2020. The GUM will allow visitors to experience a day at the museum in a completely new way. Combining the fact-driven aspects of natural history museums like Brussels’ Museum of Natural Sciences, with the more interactive, learning-based days out at Amsterdam’s NEMO, the GUM looks to build a bridge between the different disciplines within science and aims to do this in its own way. The idea for the museum formed out of Ghent University’s enormous collection of artefacts. Since the university opened its doors in 1817, it has collected over 400,000 official pieces. With another estimated 200,000 unregistered items, this is easily the largest academic heritage collection in Flanders. 36  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

The driving force behind the museum is director Marjan Doom’s passion to display science in an artistic way. Building on the dialogue between art, science and society, the GUM emphasises the quest for knowledge and wants to depict this as a creative concept. The star pieces are not necessarily the most expensive or oldest items, but rather objects that come with interesting stories that can teach about scientific processes.

Alongside permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum will host a vast programme of activities. Those who like to think are invited to visit the museum and engage in a variety of initiatives, including comprehensive lectures, debates and workshops. While the GUM hopes its visitors will come in with a lot of questions, they want them to leave with even more, encouraging them to truly dare to think.

“As we see it, the GUM is a pioneer,” says Doom. “A beautiful example of the societal role a university and a science museum can take on. A ground-breaking newcomer to the scene.” Doom’s display of Leo the finback whale in the Saint Bavo’s Cathedral in 2017 can be seen as a teaser for the museum. The whale ended up on the prow of a ship after being hit, and so found his way into Ghent Harbour in 2015. The university’s 200th birthday saw Leo’s skeleton displayed in the church, accompanied by a poem by the Flemish poet, Peter Verhelst.

Facebook and Instagram: @GUMgent

Discover Benelux  |  Top (Inter)National Education  |  A World of Opportunities

Marc-Alain Widdowson.


The Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp is at the forefront of research and education when it comes to global diseases, especially neglected tropical diseases, HIV, TB and emerging viruses. Its research and partnership with countries around the world has helped bolster its medical services and improve public health, according to its motto of “global science for a healthier world.” Public health is a global concern, and though it affects each community in a unique way, the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp (ITM) believes that all citizens should be able to access quality care in order to enjoy a healthy life. It is committed to applied scientific research, advanced training and expert medical services for patients both at home and abroad. As part of its mission, ITM is engaged in a longstanding partnership with 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America in order to develop the capacity for better medical research.

“We can’t deal with global diseases without research, global partnerships and education,” says Marc-Alain Widdowson, the director of ITM. “This combination is a very important component of our work, from dealing with outbreaks, to researching strategies, to understanding and improving health care access in certain countries.” In the 1970s, ITM led the way in helping discover the Ebola virus and since the 1980s, it has spearheaded the battle against HIV and TB through research and treatment. Its medical clinic boasts doctors and mental health professionals specialised in tropical diseases and sexually transmitted infections, in addition to several international reference laboratories. ITM has also been at the forefront of researching emerging viruses transmitted by mosquitoes and other vectors, as well as neglected tropical diseases, such as sleeping sickness, leprosy, worms and Leishmania. ITM’s work is increasingly important because of changes caused by urban-

isation, drug resistance and climate change, which have greatly affected how vectors transmit diseases and how they are spread. A new Master of Science in Tropical Medicine offered by the ITM creates a distinct path for students wanting to gain a deep scientific knowledge base and real-life professional experience in either the clinical or biomedical science of tropical medicine. ITM education is aimed at international students – primarily but not exclusively those from low- and middle-income communities – and is supported by the Belgian government. Students are invited to study in Belgium before returning to their home countries to spread their knowledge. “The goal is to study with us and then go back and bolster the research capacity and health systems in their countries,” says Dr. Widdowson.

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Photo: Château de Vianden


A fairytale destination With its fascinating history, stunning countryside and regal châteaux, the Benelux is home to some of Europe’s most fairytale-like landscapes. This month, we step inside some of the region’s most breathtaking castles. Photo: Thermae Boetfort

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Castles in the Benelux

Photo: Château de Vianden

Belgium is a castle lover’s paradise. In fact, it is home to more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Located in a beautiful region, world-famous for its beer, Château de Chimay is one of our favourites. A haven for culture vultures, the castle even boasts its own theatre and serves up an inspiring cultural agenda. If pampering is your thing, another absolute must in Belgium is the Thermae Boetfort spa complex, which is housed in the grounds of the beautiful 17th-century Boetfort castle, which still features original tapestries and decorations. Meanwhile, the Grand Duchy is home to more than 50 castles, many of which have been restored to their former glory. There, you can discover Luxembourg’s rich history and step back in time to the Middle Ages, with many castles hosting charming medieval festivals, unmissable exhibitions and world-class concerts. Located in the north of Luxembourg, Vianden Castle has to be on your to-do list. Set on a rocky promontory, overlooking the town of Vianden and the River Our, it is one of the largest fortified castles west of the Rhine. Another must-see is the 12th-century Useldange Castle in western Luxembourg. Set high up on a hill, only 15 minutes from the Belgian border, above the village of Useldange, the castle is renowned for its ‘culture trail’ – a 16-stop journey through the history of the castle and its surroundings, as well as an exploration of life in the Middle Ages.

Château d’Useldange. Photo: Thierry Deutsch

Château de Chimay. Photo: Tanguy Stichelmans

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Take a trip to the Middle Ages at Vianden Castle TEXT: ELODIE NOËL  |  PHOTOS: VIANDEN CASTLE

Built more than a thousand years ago, this Luxembourgish fortress has undergone some major renovations to bring it back to its original magnificent state. It is now considered one of the 21 most beautiful castles in the world (CNN). Located in the north of Luxembourg, Vianden Castle is a witness to history. One of the largest fortified castles west of the Rhine, it is set on a rocky promontory, overlooking the town of Vianden and the River Our. With a long and tumultuous past, the fortress has recently been fully 40  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

restored and now attracts visitors keen to learn about its history. “The castle is almost a thousand years old,” explains Jessica Ersfeld, chief of staff at Vianden Castle. “It was constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries on the foundations of a Roman castellum and combines the Romanesque and Gothic styles. During the Renaissance, the castle went through great changes, with some renovations and new rooms being built.” In 1820, under the reign of King William I of Holland, the castle was acquired through auction by a businessman who

then sold it piece by piece. As a result, it fell into a state of ruin. In 1827, William II bought back the ruin. In 1977, its last owner, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, sold it to the Luxembourg State, and then the reconstruction started. Since restored to its former glory, the castle now ranks as a monument of not only regional but European importance. “It was difficult to reconstruct the castle identically because we do not have photographs, but we do have a copper image dating from 1643 providing evidence of its original appearance,” says Jessica Ersfeld. “There have also been excavations that provided more

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information and helped us to rebuild the castle as it once was.”

What not to miss With a total length of 90 metres, the castle is surrounded by a long and beautiful fortified wall hosting four gates, one of which had a drawbridge. Once you have passed the courtyard, its information centre and shop, the castle can tell you all its secrets. “20 rooms are open to visit, showcasing Romanesque, Gothic or Renaissance architecture. It’s a patchwork of different eras,” Jessica Ersfeld adds. Among the most notable parts, don’t miss the Upper chapel, dedicated to St. Anthony, which has been restored to reflect its original Gothic appearance, the Archaeological crypt, the Grand Kitchen or the two seigniorial lodgings. “We work in collaboration with the National Sites and Monuments Service, who takes care of the work that takes place perpetually in the castle.” To help you make the most of your visit, audio guides are available in ten languag-

es. It is also possible to scan a QR code to obtain the audio guide on your smartphone. “On request, staff members can give guided tours of the castle, especially for groups.”

An international point of interest With such a rich history, it’s no wonder the number of visitors increases every year. “In 2018, we welcomed 190,000 visitors, and 219,280 in 2019. The Dutch represent nearly 30 per cent, followed by Luxembourgers, and then by neighbouring countries, French, Belgian and German. But visitors come from all over the world: China, Russia or even from New Zealand.” The castle welcomes families and has become a main attraction for children who come on school trips. “We are working on an interactive book about the history of the castle that will make it more accessible for children,” the expert adds.

What’s on at the castle? Alongside regular visitors, the castle regularly welcomes guests for historical,

musical or even literary events, taking place throughout the year. “We organise numerous concerts during the year, mostly classical music. We have 18 already scheduled for 2020.” In June, Portae Temporis takes visitors back in time during a special weekend of activities, with stalls, craftsmen wearing period clothes and a lot of showcasing life in the Middle Ages. In July, the Medieval Festival is a nine-day event with daily entertainment: knights’ camp, demonstrations of sword fighting, musicians, fire-eaters, jugglers, entertainers, presentations of raptors and demonstrations of calligraphy. “The festival attracts about 30,000 people each year. You can find things to eat, the atmosphere is friendly and it’s very popular with families.” Vianden Castle also hosts the Book and Paper Festival in September. The castle is open every day from 10am. For more info, visit:

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  41

A taste of medieval life in Luxembourg TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: THIERRY DEUTSCH

There’s nothing quite like standing in a medieval fortress to give you a real sense of life in the Middle Ages, and at the 12th-century Useldange Castle in western Luxembourg, you can do exactly that. Walking along the vast fortress walls and climbing the two remaining towers – one round, one rectangular, the views alone are spectacular. Set high up on a hill, just 15 minutes from the Belgian border, above the village of Useldange, you can see the River Attert and its surrounding landscape for miles around and it was this high vantage point that was obviously what originally made the site so advantageous as a defence against hostile neighbours. However, these days, Useldange Castle is most famous for what is known as its ‘culture trail’ – a 16-stop journey through 42  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

the history of the castle and its surroundings, as well as an exploration of life in the Middle Ages. Developed under the patronage of UNESCO, the trail has been specifically designed to work for all visitors, including those with visual impairments. Special provisions include information boards with explanations in braille lettering as well as audio presentations at every stage in English, French, German and Luxembourgish. “For me,” begins Romain Kleer, president of Culture and Castle Friends Useldange, “it is the Culture Trail which makes Useldange Castle unique in Europe.” The first stop on the trail is the spacious underground crypt with a touchable model of the fortress itself. The trail then continues across the castle’s towers, where

two remarkable exhibitions are on permanent display. In the first, the display traces the history of the fortress itself, spanning its origins in the ninth century through its evolution up until the 19th century, whilst the second tower focuses on daily life in the Middle Ages over the course of a year.

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Castles in the Benelux

The second exhibition is spread over the tower’s four floors with 3D panels and pictures exploring every aspect of life across the different seasons of the year, taking in the daily activities of people from all walks of life, from peasants to merchants, clergymen and nobles.

Gardens The trail then continues into the castle’s expansive gardens which include medieval gardens, a kitchen garden and a herb garden, as well as a stop alongside the river where you can see different species of fish. Other stops include explanations of the various species of birds found amongst the castle’s grounds, as well as cartography, poetry, the chapel and the cemetery.

Photo: Administration communale d’Useldange

Annual Medieval Fair – 13 and 14 June, 2020 Alongside its ‘Culture Trail’ and grounds, castle Useldange Castle has also become renowned for its annual Medieval Fair, with two days of medieval-themed merriment. Participants and indeed many visitors alike, dress in medieval costumes, whilst food tents sell themed food and drink – from ale to suckling pig and traditional local sausages. There are also craft stalls and musicians in traditional dress playing authentic early music instruments, falconry displays, fireworks and children’s shows. The castle has welcomed some 5,000 visitors from France, Belgium, Germany,

Luxembourg and beyond, and this year’s Fair on June 13 and 14 looks set to be even more successful.

in calligraphy, genealogy and occasional blues music soirées.

Events and Workshops The Medieval Fair may be one of the highlights of the castle’s calendar but throughout the year, a series of events is organised at ManuKultura, a centre for art and culture next to the castle, including yoga and dance sessions, as well as sustainable upcycling courses, classes

Visitors who wish to really soak up the local atmosphere and extend their stay can also take advantage of the eco-friendly rooms at the Péitche Lauer Eco Lodges and Hotel. On the edge of the River Attert, there are nine rooms within the hotel itself or there’s the option of mushroom-shaped individual lodges, or ‘MushRooms’, as they’re known.

Hotel and Restaurant

At the Péitche Lauer Brasserie, meanwhile, chef Raul serves up a daily changing seasonal menu with dishes such as veal Cordon Bleu, tagliatelle with two types of salmon, or ‘surf and turf’ with beef fillet and giant prawns with garlic sauce. There are also vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, as well as a children’s menu. To book a guided tour, contact Visit Guttland: Tel: +352 28 22 78 62 Email:

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  43

Relax with a castle in the background at Thermae Boetfort.


Where wellness meets heritage TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: THERMAE BOETFORT

Whether you need something to warm you during the cold winter months, are looking for that perfect Valentine’s date spot, or simply want to soak up the health benefits of a trip to the sauna: Thermae Boetfort has you covered. This spa complex boasts all of the features you could possibly wish for in a wellness centre, plus a unique location: the grounds of a 400-year-old castle. “We want wellness to be accessible for everyone.” Visitors to Thermae Boetfort get a free dose of culture served up with their wellness trip: inevitable, given its prime location in the 17th-century Boetfort castle. “The treatment centre and restaurant are located within the castle, which still fea44  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

tures original tapestries and decorations,” explains marketing manager Ellen Van De Wijgaert. “The other wellness facilities are in the castle gardens and adjacent buildings. Wherever you are, a spectacular view is guaranteed.”

Wellness for everyone The health benefits of wellness treatments are well-publicised, and Van De Wijgaert believes that everyone should have access to them. “Warming up in a sauna and subsequently cooling down promotes a healthy blood flow and boosts your immunity – something we can all use in winter,” she explains. “Seasoned sauna visitors usually go nude, but we also want the benefits of wellness

to be accessible for those who, for whatever reason, do not feel comfortable with public nudity. That’s why we have two completely separate wellness areas, one where bathing suits are mandatory and one where they are not allowed. That way, everyone can enjoy the various saunas, pools and steam rooms in comfort.” Whichever area visitors choose, they will be able to attend a host of additional experiences, all of which are included in the entry ticket. “We offer Aufguss sessions, scrub sessions, guided meditations with sound bowls, hammam rituals, halotherapy and more,” attests Van De Wijgaert. “All of these are aimed at helping our visitors relax and de-stress. People have such busy lives today; it is really important to

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tend to our physical and mental wellness and to charge our batteries every so often.”

Room for romance Spa centres are of course a popular date spot, and Thermae Boetfort is no exception. The wellness centre happily caters to couples with a variety of arrangements, including the option to rent one of two private sauna suites. “Our private suites both include a pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, all completely private. While these are popular with couples, one suite can accommodate up to eight people and the other up to 12, so they can be rented out by groups, as well.” The private saunas are especially in demand around Valentine’s Day, but couples who have missed the opportuni-

ty to book a private wellness slot still have plenty of other options to choose from. “We also run a hotel, with some rooms in a building on the castle grounds and some across the street,” explains Van De Wijgaert. “We offer special Valentine’s arrangements that include spa access and an overnight stay, as well as single day packages with some treatments included.”

Spotlight on sustainability Running a wellness centre inevitably requires a lot of electricity and water, but Thermae Boetfort makes a conscious contribution to sustainability wherever possible. “We have just transitioned to a PET-free operation: single-use plastics are banned from the site entirely. We offer reusable drink bottles at a low price and our customers can fill them throughout the

premises. We also use LED-lighting everywhere to reduce our carbon footprint.” The Boetfort premises also boast a restaurant within the castle, where hungry visitors can revive over anything from small snacks and daily specials to extensive dining menus, all cooked on the spot. The kitchen caters to all diets and preferences, whether you’re after a healthy meal, a filling pasta or even a glass of the spa’s very own Boetfort beer. In addition to its top-notch facilities and décor, Thermae Boetfort is ideally located a stone’s throw from Brussels Airport, allowing weary travellers to make a pit stop before or after an exhausting flight. “We are open until midnight every day, so those with late flights can come and rest up before their departure,” concludes Van De Wijgaert. Thermae Boetfort is open every day of the year apart from Christmas Day, from 10.30am to 12am. Its sister location Thermae Grimbergen offers a similar wellness experience in a peaceful, green setting.

Thermae Boetfort, Sellaerstraat 42, 1820 Melsbroek. Thermae Grimbergen is the wellness group’s second location, where you can destress in a luscious green environment

For more information, visit:

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  45

Château de Chimay.



Glorious memories, erstwhile glory, curiosity and fascination… the Château de Chimay intrigues, surprises and marvels everyone from history fanatics and students, to connoisseurs and music lovers. With over 20,000 visitors per annum, the Château de Chimay has the privileged feeling of being the place to be, with a full and ambitious agenda.

All for music Built during the 11th century, the granite fortress became an Imperial château in the 1480s. Over the centuries, through the torments of history and numerous rebounds, Chimay has played a remarkable role on Belgium’s cultural and heritage scene, and continues to do so today. Probably as something of a sign of destiny, artists and music aficionados have forever been meeting at Chimay to perform or to work in residence there. The 46  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Château still resonates in the music world today, with the numerous concerts regularly held in its astonishing 19thcentury theatre.

A fascinating journey through Chimay’s remarkable history Keen to find out more about the Secrets of Chimay with Stéphane Bern, we spoke to Vanessa Pontet, director of the fasci-

This is a magical place where exceptional moments happen… and the 2020 season will once again bring further excellence.

Quiet! Action! During visits to the Château, inside the magnificent theatre, guests have the privilege to hear from a delightful story teller, who is passionate about royal and princely families. Who could it be? You may have guessed – it is Stéphane Bern, recounting the Secrets of Chimay. The unreleased and exclusive film sets the scene for this never-ceasing-to-inspire location. Prince Philippe and Princess Françoise continue tradition with their subtle and effortless work, and Chimay shines once again in its current era.

The Prince and Princess de Chimay. Photo: Tanguy Stichelmans

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nating film. The expert is a director of documentaries and docudramas, specialising in the history of Europe’s castles. Her work includes La guerre des trônes, la véritable histoire de l’Europe (War of Thrones, The Real History of Europe) on France 5, as well as Secrets d’Histoire (Secrets of History) presented by the renowned royalty and nobility expert Stéphane Bern on the television channel France 2.

The incredible story of Madame Tallien In fact, it was during the making of Secrets of History that the film Secrets of Chimay came about. “Four years ago I was working on Secrets d’Histoire (Secrets of History), presented by Stéphane Bern. I made one episode called Les femmes de la Révolution (The Women of the Revolution), where we told the female stories behind the French Revolution,” she begins. “One of the women we talked about was the French noblewoman Madame Tallien, who was a Revolutionary muse during the period of Robespierre, but later went on to become the Princess of Chimay through her marriage to François-Joseph-Philippe de Riquet, Comte de Caraman in 1805. It’s an incredible story.” It was during the making of Secrets of History that Vanessa met Prince Philippe and Princess Françoise, and they approached her about making a film to present the castle. “I get on so well with the Prince and Princess, and I absolutely love the castle, so I was absolutely over the moon to be asked,” recalls Vanessa.

The weapons room.

Tumultuous times Estimated to be more than a thousand years old, Chimay is one of the few castles still lived in by its owners, and first opened to the general public soon after the Second World War. Families have succeeded each other throughout the castle’s most painful times, surviving wars, political disruption, looting and fires. Over the centuries, nine families have passed the castle and its land from one generation to the next, most significantly the Soissons, the Hainauts, the Croÿs, the d’Arenbergs and, of course, the Chimays.

A scene from the film Secrets of Chimay. Photo: Vanessa Pontet

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  47

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Castles in the Benelux

Leading historians Presented by Stéphane Bern, Secrets of Chimay sees actors re-enacting key moments and portraying important figures in Chimay’s history. The film also includes input from an array of renowned names including historical journalist and writer Franck Ferrand, historian Catherine ErmaryVieille, writer Marie Cornaz, and writer and historian Laure Hillerin. Also featured are Mathieu Da Vinha, scientific director of the Palace of Versailles Research Centre, not to mention Princess Françoise. “Making this film was a beautiful experience,” smiles Vanessa, explaining how the film was shot on location, with Stéphane Bern and all the actors coming to the castle. “It is extremely rare for all the filming to be done on location, and it made the film even more special.”

Palace of Versailles

The theatre.

The Thierry Bosquet salon. Photo: Tanguy Stichelmans

Vanessa points out that the support of the Palace of Versailles was also greatly appreciated in the making of the film. “The management of Versailles agreed to open the doors of the Petit Trianon, the small château located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles,” she reveals. In fact, Versailles is still today home to the Chimay Attic, which is a reminder of the sumptuous apartments of Laure-Auguste de Fitz-James, Princess of Chimay, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette from 1770 to 1791.

A magnificent setting During the 30-minute film, visitors are taken on an incredible tour of all the major stages in the castle’s history. Visitors watch the film in the castle’s breathtaking theatre, which was modelled on the Louis XV theatre in Fontainebleau. Seating 130 guests, the theatre was entirely rebuilt in 1863 and since then has been refurbished and upgraded in a continued effort to keep it authentic yet modern. “It is a magnificent setting, just beautiful!” concludes Vanessa. Château de Chimay Rue du Château 14 / 6460 Chimay Tel: +32 60 21 45 31

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Castles in the Benelux

The entrance hall.

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  49

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Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Lynn Van Royen


An actor with many layers Aalst-born Lynn Van Royen has been a familiar face on Belgian screens for over a decade now, and now thanks to the availability of hit Flemish series such as Tabula Rasa and Hotel Beau Séjour on Channel 4’s on-demand service All4, she is also making a name for herself on British shores. Between starring on stage alongside Peter De Graef in a play about the American artist Henry Darger, filming upcoming soccer drama The Window in the UK and juggling life with two small children, the actor found time to talk to us about her exciting upcoming projects. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: STEVEN HENDRIX

Van Royen is clearly very good at multitasking, as she speaks to me over video call from her home in Flanders. It is a Wednesday afternoon, which means her sons (four and eight) have a half day from school and she’s been making brownies with them. Warm, funny and down-toearth, I almost forgot that I was speaking to one of the most in-demand actors of the moment as we settled down to discuss Van Royen’s critically acclaimed role in Hotel Beau Séjour. A riveting whodunnit with a supernatural twist, the series was first broadcast in 2017 on Belgian channel, EEN. It went on to be shown on Netflix, which led to American author Stephen King praising the show on Twitter, describing it as ‘eccentric, brilliant, and strangely touching’. “That was something I could only ever have dreamed of,” enthuses the 30-yearold, who played lead character Kato

Hoeven in the show. “That was a great way to get publicity for the programme — it was wonderful. Netflix also helped us get a lot of attention very quickly.”

Intense The premise of Hotel Beau Séjour is that Van Royen’s teenage character Kato (Lynn Van Royen) is killed in a cheap hotel room before returning as a ghost to investigate her own murder. “Along with the crew, we stayed in the actual hotel,” recalls Van Royen. Rather than being a spooky experience, Van Royen describes it like “being at camp” and says it really helped everyone connect. The actor admits filming was “intense” however, and that the show’s dark themes did make things tough. “Some days were more difficult than others,” she recalls. “But the feeling I had was not that I was playing a dead girl. To me, she was very much alive.”

Award-winner Her approach was clearly effective, with Van Royen’s portrayal being lauded by critics and viewers alike — so much so that she received the award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama TV Series at the 2018 Monte Carlo TV Festival. “That was so surreal,” smiles the star. “It was so big and fancy, and they sat us right at the back because one of the directors is in a wheelchair so I thought ‘ok, we’re at the back, I’m safe’. Then they called my name! I dropped my phone and just thought ‘don’t trip, just make it to the stage and say something that makes sense’. I did okay!” Did she have a feeling the show would bring her this much success when she first read the script? “Well, I was very realistic — and this went beyond my imagination,” she grins. Van Royen always likes to absorb herself into her roles, and she even learned to Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  51

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Lynn Van Royen

ride a motorcycle when playing motocross rider Kato. Is that a skill she has used since? “After shooting, I was pregnant with my second baby, so I had to get my priorities straight. But I would love to buy a motorcycle and travel round in it one day,” she muses.

Family life Talking of her sons, Van Royen admits that, like all parents, juggling family life with a successful career is no mean feat. However, Van Royen is fortunate enough to have the support of friends and family. “The family all jump in,” she smiles. “You don’t raise them alone — it takes a village!” Photo: De Mensen/VRT

They may still be very young, but could Van Royen, a former student of the Royal Institute for Theatre, Cinema and Sound (RITCS) in Brussels see them following in her footsteps? “At the moment they’re not interested, but they can do whatever they like,” says the actor, who began treading the boards herself as a hobby. “I did theatre after school between the ages of 14 and 18. It was just something I loved, but I didn’t really think it could be a career. I mean, no-one in my family did it. Then I had a really good exam result and my teacher suggested taking it further. I got a part in a Belgian miniseries when I was a teenager…and now we’re here!”

Versatile In addition to her success in Hotel Beau Séjour, Van Royen also impressed with her role playing Nikki in the 2017 psychological thriller series Tabula

Rasa alongside Veerle Baetens. Is the actor particularly drawn to dark subjects? “They do appeal to me; I enjoy parts with lots of layers,” she admits. “But certainly not exclusively. I’ve also done comedies and I love the idea of a costume drama, or an action movie with lots of extreme stunts.”

in the play, In the Realms of the Unreal, about the artist Henry Darger, one of the most famous names in outsider art. “It’s good to combine theatre and film work,” she enthuses. “It’s not really easy when you also have a family, but I love to do both.”

Many film stars choose to make a children’s film once they have children of their own, and I wonder if this is something Van Royen has also thought about? “Well I watched Hotel Beau Séjour with my eldest son and he didn’t get traumatised,” she jokes. “Though I would love to provide the voice for an animation. I love to play around with different voices when reading the kids stories at home.”

Next on the horizon for Van Royen is a role in soccer drama The Window, which explores the business surrounding professional soccer, focusing on players, agents, club owners, administrators and journalists. It will be shot in London, Belgium and Malta and also stars Brits Mel Raido, Tommy Bastow and Jodie Tyack. Van Royen plays sports journalist Esther in the drama. “I love coming to London,” she told us, ahead of starting production in the U.K. “And I’m very eager to dive in to this role.”

Theatre is still a major part of Van Royen’s life and she has been touring Flanders

Lynn Van Royen plays Kato Hoeven in Hotel Beau Séjour. Photo: De Mensen/VRT

52  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Photo: De Mensen/VRT

Upcoming drama

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  53





You need to be good at languages TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

I asked a German management team recently what competences and behaviours we need for working internationally. The first thing they came up with was competence in foreign languages. But what does this mean? For them, it meant having an operational level in English. Certainly English is the dominant international language today and is likely to remain so for a while. But is this enough? I think that to be linguistically well-equipped, today’s global citizens need not just their native language and English but another ‘global language’ as well. A global language is one spoken by lots of people. Google the ten most spoken languages and more or less the same ones come up each time. In addition to English, there is usually Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Bengali, Portuguese, Russian, French and Urdu, with German, Japanese and Indonesian hanging in there too – take your pick. Any one of them will enable you to do business or simply chat with anything between 150 million and a billion or more people. 54  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

There is another dimension to language competence, however, whose effectiveness I learnt from a French banker who audits branch offices worldwide. “Make the effort to learn 15 words and phrases of the local language wherever you go,” he told me, “and it will open doors, help you build relationships, and change your status from tourist to respected visitor.” He has done this in a dozen languages and has gained benefits both professionally and personally as a result.

thank you is ‘arigatou’; and my mental image was of a British prince, Harry ‘ari’ with a French cake - ‘gateau’ on his head. It worked every time. It’s added a whole new surreal and fun dimension to my language learning.

So next time you go to a new country, try memorising the local words for: Thank you, Yes, No, Hello, Goodbye, Excuse me, I’m sorry, How are you?, How much is it?, What is this?, Where is … ?, Can I have the bill, please?, Toilet, Station, and a few others, and enjoy a qualitatively different travel experience. Like so many lazy anglophones, I’m a poor language learner though my French is not too bad and I know quite a few translations of ‘beer’. I do find memorising 15 words in a new language hard although on a recent trip to Japan, I tried visual association. The Japanese for

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their leadership and communication skills for working internationally:

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FITC. Photo: David Carson


European Testing Conference 2020


2 - 3 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands Taking place at Expo Haarlemmermeer, showUP is renowned for being one of the most inspiring Dutch trade shows for gifts and homeware. The event welcomes more than 350 international exhibitors, focusing on buyers from home and gift stores, concept stores, webshops, department stores and museum boutiques.

6 - 7 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands The European Testing Conference is about getting experts and practitioners together to talk, learn and practice the art of testing. Examining advanced new methods into making testing more effective, this innovative event sees talented practitioners share their expertise.

19 - 23 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands Back for its eighth edition, Chocoa brings together stakeholders from the entire supply chain, from cocoa farmers to chocolate consumers. The aim of the event is to increase the market for ‘good cocoa and better chocolate’. Chocoa 2019 hosted 150 stands and 9,000 visitors during all Chocoa events.


Photo: showUP

16 - 17 February Kortrijk, Belgium Now in its 21st edition, Anido has earned its reputation as a unique, professional meeting place for the whole pet care sector in the Benelux and Northern France. Discover the latest innovations at this unmissable event which welcomes everyone from buyers and dog breeders to grooming salons and seed and fertiliser businesses.

FITC 24 - 25 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands Now in its 13th year, FITC returns to Amsterdam to host its groundbreaking design and tech event on the future of innovation, design and much more. FITC Amsterdam features some of the world’s most innovative and inspiring speakers and offers you the opportunity to mingle with those who share your creative passion. Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  55


Based in Brussels, Feelink is a creative design studio specialising in brand identity conception. From the original concept to brand identity, logocrafting, typography, edition and communication strategy, it offers comprehensive guidance throughout the creative process that allows a brand to identify its DNA and define how it wishes to be perceived. Its founder, François Houtmans, combines a career-long knowledge of visual communication with a modern, futureforward attitude to the philosophy and practice of design. To François, “creativity is intelligence having a good time.” To that end, he has assembled a small-scale team of young specialists who together provide a comprehensive, step-by step accompaniment 56  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

that paves the way from a simple idea to a powerful visual product. Below, François and his team share a few thoughts on the art of creating brand identity out of shapes and symbols.

What is meant by the ‘visual identity’ of a brand? Creative team: It is the image that a business, an institution or an organisation presents to its audience. It contains its values, its energy and its ambitions. Visual identity is the whole of its different graphic, auditory, and sensory elements, put together in a cohesive way. François: A brand’s visual identity allows us to recognise it at first glance, thus to identify it and assimilate it to the environment in which it appears. It is articulated

through keywords that define the brand’s DNA as well as its purpose. From these keywords, we elaborate colour codes and shapes to match the clients’ purpose. We use these elements to ‘dress’ the brand, making it identifiable with the target audience.

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The world of design is vast. What do you find particularly compelling in the conception of a brand’s image? Creative team: Being able to create, through design, a language both personal and distinctive, in order to foreground the client’s history, the essence of the brand. To do this thoughtfully and successfully is a fascinating challenge. François: Brand image conception must allow cohesion between the brand, the business behind it, and the values it represents for the consumer or B2B client. The goal is to gather and select what arguments will be presented to and foreground its powerful aspects. The message should be simple, clear and specific, and its repetition should enable brand assimilation and recognition in the audience. Thus the message is the brand’s signature, and it is often the simplest elements (a shape, a colour) that have the most impact. This research work is both essential and fascinating: it is a building block for the dialogue between the design team and the client company. It is a vital step because there must be balance and mutual understanding between the two.

What are some key factors to successful communication? Creative team: When communication relies on a strong concept, tells a story, and passes on the brand’s philosophy, it succeeds. It should be universal, understandable by all, and easily memorisable. It is important to define the mission, the vision and the values of the brand in order to render them as faithfully as possible. Beyond this, clarity and efficiency are also two main aspects.

A good logo should allow the brand to ‘speak’. Do you consider design to be a language?

self is very important, through what it symbolises and the references it makes.

Creative team: Design is a visual medium, through which emotions, ideas and values can be perceived on an instinctive level. Playing on collective codes, it allows us to express a particular idea. Various typographies, shapes, and arrangements all elicit a different sensation that the audience may not be able to express, but that it will understand unconsciously.

Would you see yourselves more as being creators, in that you create designs, or as mediators, between brand and consumer?

François: Design is evidently a language, but also the medium through which a brand can synthesise what it stands for. Beyond the logo, however, the name it-

However, we are creators in that our job is to create shapes that will send a message, and bring out an emotional response.

Creative team: We are mediators in that we often help our clients formulate the message that they wish to send, through workshops and meetings. We accompany them in their strategic choices, and facilitate the establishment of their brand.

To you, a dream project would be... Creative team: We would love to work on a project that is aimed at a wide audience, is thought-provoking, and stirs curiosity around it. We would like it to benefit others, whether it is linked to education or to a specific cause. We also find it interesting when a project shows a lot of originality, which allows it to demarcate itself and to play a social role.

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  57

The dream workspace, from your idea to realisation TEXT: LAUREN WALKER  |  PHOTOS: SCHÄFER SHOP

On average, a full-time employee in the EU spends a quarter of their time every week working. The quality of this environment and its dynamics are therefore deciding factors when considering the standard of working life. Improving these factors is where Schäfer Shop comes in. For over 40 years, the company has specialised in producing modern office furniture and office equipment to benefit its clients’ businesses by delivering quality products and tailored services. Schäfer Shop has become the go-to place for successful firms all over Europe, as it sells everything workplaces will need. The company offers individual necessities for office life, like the comfiest desk chairs and the most practical storage spaces, as well as catering trollies and coffee in bulk 58  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

— all in one place. With over 100,000 products on offer, it caters to every type of workplace.

Service like no other Aside from the fact that it produces all its own furniture in Germany, the store’s specialised ‘Premium Service’ is by far the unique factor which makes this firm stand out from other, similar businesses. It assists businesses in creating the ideal workplace by putting the individual needs and wishes of clients and their employees at the centre of the designs and the furnishing of offices and warehouses. Everything is taken into consideration when designing your next workspace, from the floors and the ceiling to the colour of the walls to suit your branding, the acoustics of the office and ergo-

nomically friendly furniture. At every level, Schäfer Shop strives to create a motivating and engaging atmosphere during every renovation, tailored to every individual business, whilst guaranteeing planning monitoring and support during every phase of the process and keeping costs to a minimum. Working together with construction specialists, architects, CAD designers and account managers, all on location for your convenience, the team develops customised design concepts for all workplaces; creative, personalised and innovative from planning, implementation and construction. At every step of the way, a team of motivated professionals will help ensure the project runs smoothly, allowing you to implement positive change without having to deal with the stresses.

Discover Benelux  |  Business Profile  |  Holland’s Experts in Office Furniture

From idea to realisation From the first meeting, Schäfer Shop offers its clients extended advice, starting by understanding the spaces they are working on and recognising the characteristics and what the possibilities are. The team’s experts can measure the most complex ground plans to ensure every square metre will be used effectively. Following extensive talks with clients, the designers and architects then create a functional concept to modernise the workplace, taking into account the different functions for every space and how to optimise their uses, whether they are being used creatively by people to share ideas, or offer peace and tranquillity for individuals to focus on their work. By creating 3D displays of the future workspaces, clients can visualise and experience the project before it has been implemented, allowing them to make changes at the most pivotal stage.

At the core of every project lies the ‘look and feel’ of workspaces, and Schäfer Shop always ensures the result suits its client and the business’ identity. By creating indi-

vidual and personalised concepts in which businesses can recognise themselves, the interior of the workplace further enhances productivity and the sense of personality. Once all plans have been drawn up, this vision becomes reality. During the entire implementation phase, Schäfer Shop’s team is the client’s partner, and takes full responsibility for the coordination of the planning, installation and the assembly of the workspace, from offices and reception areas to canteens and conference rooms. Erik van der Harst, Schäfer Shop’s business development manager, highlights that there are so many possibilities for what workplaces can become: “Often, our clients are so surprised by what we are able to create with existing spaces, and how we can tailor our services to meet their needs.” Following years of expertise, a strong knowledge in technical construction and by recognising the importance of transparency and trust, Schäfer Shop is able to guarantee the best service for all its clients, whether it is creating a dozen office chairs tailored to special requests or redesigning your entire office, it will always help find a solution for your problem. For more information on how to modernise and improve efficiency in your workplace, visit:

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  59

Discover Benelux  |  Business Profile  |  The Secret to a Good Coffee

Selling passion, craft and feelings TEXT: ELINE JOLING  |  PHOTOS: TIRAMISU

Family, passion and authentic espresso – these are the elements that make Caffè Tiramisu. Starting out as an Italian delicatessen shop in 1988 but soon narrowing down to just coffee, owner Sandro Mascilongo built on his father’s Italian roots to create a family run business that is all about passion, craftsmanship and the perfect cup of coffee. Over the last 30 years, Caffè Tiramisu have handpicked the 50 different espresso machines on offer across their stores today. While they do sell fully automated machines as well, controlled simply by the touch of a button, Caffè Tiramisu’s passion lies with the authentic Italian equipment. The technique behind these espresso machines has been in development since the early 1900s and charac-

teristic components developed in the ‘60s are still featured on new equipment to this day. Although systems like the drip or percolator are increasing in popularity again, the original Italian espresso machines will always be on top. As the equipment is operated by hand, the drinks can be tailored to preference - providing you with not just a cup of coffee, but a personal experience full of authenticity and nostalgia. “The authentic espresso, the real craft, comes from Italy,” says Mascilongo’s son Ruggero. “In our opinion they are a step ahead of everyone else simply because there is generation upon generation of coffee roasting history.” Unsurprisingly, Tiramisu collaborate only with Italian, artisan coffee factories. 40

different coffee melanges are currently on offer, all made in craft factories with interesting stories or techniques, including ones who still brew over wooden fires. Caffè Tiramisu also offers nine of their own melanges, and produces private label brands for their customers – all roasted in the Arabicaffè factory in Catania, Sicily since 1991. “We’ve been working closely with that factory for so long now,” says Ruggero, “the owner is like family, and we are part of his.” Aside from coffee, Tiramisu prides itself in its service to its customers. From maintenance and repair, to sending customers home with new samples to try, to even offering personal barista training on newly purchased machines, so the ins and outs of coffee making are mastered when the first steaming cup is freshly brewed at home. At Caffè Tiramisu, it’s about more than just selling coffee equipment, it’s about welcoming people into the coffee family and passing on their passion and love for artisan espresso.

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Discover Benelux  |  Business Profile  |  ABC Business Coaches

Hélène Propsma and Erik Meijer.

Coaching you to become the best version of yourself TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: ABC BUSINESS COACHES

At different stages in your career you can reach various crossroads; early on, when you have difficulty making (life) choices, or at a more mature age, when you wonder how to stay relevant upon retirement. Having a coach by your side who understands the life — and work — phases people go through, can help you find inspiration and direction again. “If it was up to us, coaching would always be preventive, rather than curative,” say Hélène Propsma and Erik Meijer of ABC Business Coaches. ABC Business Coaches is an association of six business coaches, from a variety of disciplines. “We are all independent entrepreneurs and by working together this way, we counsel, challenge and educate each other constantly, to be the best coach for our clients,” explains Propsma. “How can you be a good coach, if you

are not open to being coached and receiving feedback yourself?” For Propsma, a good coach is someone who does more than just coaching. “You need to be experiencing life, doing other things, learning from diverse experiences. I consult on diversity and inclusion projects for a variety of clients, which gives me a broader understanding of the differences between people and the challenges people face at each stage of their life and career. Besides this, I’m a voluntary board member for a business club.” For ex-banker Meijer, his focus is also on sustainable employability, besides being a volunteer treasurer in several societies.

Providing the tools and finding direction Each partner of ABC adheres to the same philosophy, Meijer continues: “A coach is someone that listens, lets you look in the mirror and helps you deal with impedi-

ments and challenges: is this the ‘stage’ (job) you still want to be on, or do you need to look for a new ‘theatre’ (organisation)? A coach provides the tools and encourages you, so that you can make the decision. Sometimes that means just asking a few questions and listening.” Individual experience and a shared philosophy of encouraging awareness, understanding transformation and empowerment, is what makes ABC Business Coaches unique. “We give people new perspectives and let them experiment with new behaviour to reach their goals. Those goals become clearer along the way when a coach accompanies you for a certain amount of time, guiding you to become the best version of yourself,” they conclude. You are welcome at:

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  61

Photo: Eventic


An exceptional experience Are you hoping to make your next event one to remember? Then take a look at our guide to the Netherlands’ finest event planners. Easyfairs. Photo: Seijbel Photography

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Event Planning  |  An Exceptional Experience

Creative corporate events tailored to boost your business TEXT: LAUREN WALKER  |  PHOTOS: EVENTIC AND DENIS MUTLU

When done right, hosting a corporate event can give a big boost and great marketing opportunity for businesses, whether the occasion is to celebrate employees or to host trusted or new clients. For Inge de Jong, from Dutch event planning firm Eventic, this belief is central to her work, as she skilfully tailors events to meet her clients’ needs, ensuring every event is unique. With a goal to add more spice to the corporate event industry, Eventic looks to incorporate creativity at all levels. It keeps up to date with the latest trends in terms of concepts, decoration and venues, whilst remaining aware of sustainability. Eventic expertly assists international businesses hosting events in the Netherlands and firms looking to organise events abroad. Although Eventic was launched a year and a half ago, there are already plans to open other branches across Europe to further cater to international business.

Eventic is run in a modular structure where it works alongside a strong and reliable network of specialised caterers, decorators and venues globally, and by choosing the right professionals for the right event, the firm offers a unique, hassle-free experience. From organising a high-level entertainment night including acrobats in an ancient church in Amsterdam for customers from ten different nationalities, to hosting a Polish SEAT branch’s twoday conference near an astounding lake in

Inge de Jong.

the Netherlands’ Groningen, every event is unforgettable. Commenting on what she hopes businesses will get from Eventic’s services, Inge says: “Events are a great way to market your business and the importance of direct client communication is something which cannot be underestimated. If businesses organise these events smartly, it can make a big difference, and that’s where we come in!”

To find out more or to book a free consultation with Eventic, visit:

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  63

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Event Planning  |  An Exceptional Experience

Photo: Hans Morren

Raising events to the next level TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: SEIJBEL PHOTOGRAPHY xxx Not

many event organisers can call themselves versatile and follow through on that very promise. Easyfairs, however, is one of them, as the Dutch-based company has organised events in 14 different countries, runs five regional hubs and stands out as a business that is capable of handling multi-format, b2b and public events such as conventions, seminars, award shows, product presentations and so much more. With its newest 6,000-square-metre venue, ‘Next Level’ in Gorinchem (a half-hour drive away from Rotterdam), Easyfairs is setting its sights to the future, offering live events with a panache that is unrivalled. Operating as a fully integrated and scalable platform, Easyfairs has the pleasure

of organising events from 200 people upwards to 20,000. Having several event locations, Easyfairs is capable of handling every aspect of its live-experiences; from staff to catering, to the construction of stands, audio, video, hosts, all the while capable of generating data that can provide better insight for optimal return on investment and return on time. Examples of the more large-scale events that Easyfairs is known for are trade fairs such as ‘Horticulture’, one of the most important events in the greenhouse horticulture industry, and fairs for the maritime industry, too. But Easyfairs wouldn’t be themselves if they were always reaching for higher goals. That is why CEO Jeroen van Hooff is rightfully ecstatic with their latest

addition: ‘Next Level’. Van Hooff: “Next Level is the first floor of our existing event space in Gorinchem and as the name implies, we really want to take events to the next level with this new hall. We’ve removed several walls to create this large open, flexible space that has all the latest innovations, providing a 12-metre-wide screen, cinema-quality sound and dynamic led lighting that can be programmed to match a theme or a company logo.” Van Hooff continues: “Though we can fully manage an event, it’s also an option to rent and have a turn key event, corporate event etc. Next Level is built with corporate social responsibility in mind and thus we reduce waste as much as we can and have added as much green as we could. With 6,000 square metres, it is possible to organise just about anything at Next Level. For example, the combination of a corporate presentation and a party is always an option, and we’re currently looking for partnerships with surrounding hotels, taking away the need for having to drive after an event.”

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What can the Amstelzijde Kliniek do for you? TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: AMSTELZIJDE KLINIEK

The days in which cosmetic medicine was a laughing stock lie far behind us. Today, plastic and cosmetic practitioners are miracle workers in optimising people’s potential and boosting their self-esteem. Nonetheless, the sector knows big quality differences and you must, therefore, be careful which doctor you put your confidence in. At the renowned Amstelzijde Kliniek, however, you are in safe hands. Doctor Hayri Hortoglu has over 20 years of experience and was one of the Netherlands’ pioneers in the field of injectables. Today, he and his team are a top reference in this field, as well as highly skilled in skin therapy and plastic surgery. 66  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

“There are many misconceptions about what we do,” explains Dr Hortoglu. “People often think cosmetic medicine is an ‘on-demand’ treatment; that we do whatever our clients ask us to, but that is far from true. At the Amstelzijde Kliniek, we won’t perform any procedure that we don’t believe will benefit our client. In fact, what we are most praised for is our ability to work as naturally as possible. We improve people’s existing features and accentuate their strengths. We don’t make people, but we improve individuals!”

Botox and fillers Founded ten years ago, the Amstelzijde Kliniek was one of the first cosmetic

Hayri Hortoglu.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Beauty Experts of the Netherlands  |  The Amstelzijde Kliniek

medicine institutions in the Amsterdam region that focused solely on injectables. To date, that is still its foremost speciality. “Injectables are way more versatile than most people think. They are not just used to straighten out wrinkles or to give lips more volume, but they also play a part in performing so-called liquid facelifts or even earlobe rejuvenations.” While the Amstelzijde Kliniek uses eight different sorts of injectables, they categorise them into two different types. Most famous are the Botuline Toxine treatments (better known as Botox). This is a muscle relaxer which helps you get rid of wrinkles of the forehead and crow’s feet but can also be used to give your jawline or neck its youthful glow back, for example. Secondly, you’ve got fillers. “As you grow older, you lose more and more baby fat, because of which your skin might sag or hang a bit. By filling up these spaces, you regain your natural, healthy curves.”

Injectables, skin therapy and plastic surgery Today, the Amstelzijde Kliniek does way more than just injectables, though. As experts in cosmetic medicine as a whole, the team also counts an in-house plastic surgeon and a team of skin therapists. “We provide custom-made solutions for people who want to look better, and that can’t always be done with injectaIssue 74  |  February 2020  |  67

Discover Benelux  |  Top Beauty Experts of the Netherlands  |  The Amstelzijde Kliniek

bles alone. By adding skin therapy and plastic surgery into the mix, we create a new range of possibilities. Sometimes, a combination of a bit of filler, some laser therapy and a surgical intervention solves a problem better than treating it from one angle only.” As the surgical procedures require highly-specialised equipment, the actual surgery takes place in a nearby hospital. Here, as well, the Amstelzijde Kliniek guarantees the same top-notch service and quality as in its proper clinic.

Personal preparation process Holding ethical and medical values and guidelines in the highest regard, the Amstelzijde Kliniek’s clients go through a thorough, personal and non-binding preparation process before starting the actual cosmetic procedure. “First, we get you an appointment for a consultation and register you on our system. Here, we also double-check your age, as we don’t treat minors. During this free consultation, we listen to your wishes and propose the best possible course of action for your specific needs. We also ask about your medical history to prevent any unpleasant surprises later. If both you and we are convinced that a certain treatment (or combination of treatments) is the way to go, we plan the actual procedure. If one of us is not quite sure, however, we might suggest a cooling-off-period or a second consultation before proceeding.” Dr Hortoglu and his team always discuss the options of less-invasive cosmetic procedures or even the option of not intervening at all, as well. “Cosmetic medicine is not about making profit. We want to make our clients feel happy and confident. For that, it is paramount that they know all their options.”

State-of-the-art material In its skin therapy practice, the Amstelzijde Kliniek uses nothing but the best, stateof-the-art material. As a board member of the Dutch Aesthetic Laser Association and a founding member of the Dutch Association for Cosmetic Medicine (NVCG), Dr Hortoglu is an expert on innovative technologies in the field. “That doesn’t mean we follow every trend that pops up. Before we invest in something, this technique has to prove itself. Trends 68  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Discover Benelux  |  Top Beauty Experts of the Netherlands  |  The Amstelzijde Kliniek

are volatile and, as we work with people, we don’t want to take any unnecessary risks, we only use solid, trustworthy technologies.” And those, the Amstelzijde Kliniek has aplenty. Each of them serves a different purpose, from skin improvement to tattoo removal.

Transparency The clientele of the Amstelzijde Kliniek is a very diverse group. Although the lion’s share is female, more and more men are finding their way to the clinic, as well. The age of patients also varies from 20 to 93. “We also have return customers aplen-

ty. Sometimes, I jokingly call myself a cosmetic general practitioner.” The main reasons why people keep coming back are the personal service, the high level of expertise and their transparency. During the first consultations, the doctors inform every client about what’s awaiting them and exactly how much it will cost. In fact, the clinic has published a complete price list on its website, as well. “Knowing my clients longer and better does, also, help me to assess their expectations with more precision. You know what is important to them and how you can improve their lives. And that is what satisfies me the most.”

The importance of certified practitioners: As liberating as good cosmetic medicine is to many, as horrible can the results of amateurish work be. Therefore, make sure that the clinic of your choosing – as well as its doctors – possesses the right certifications and permits. At the Amstelzijde Kliniek, all doctors are properly certified and its highlyadvanced materials get audited annually.

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  69

Bright Brussels. Photo: Visit.Brussels, Eric Danhier

Out & About In February, the Benelux is covered in colour. From bright contemporary art and cheerful animated films to whimsical cosplay and flashy light art. With Carnival around the corner, confetti cannons burst in every city, village and hamlet while crazy costumes and fabulous floats adorn the streets. Yet, if you want to escape from this extravaganza, you can do so with every adult’s three favourite colours: white, red and rosé. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Art Rotterdam. Photo: Almicheal Fraay

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Bright Brussels. Photo: Visit.Brussels, Eric Danhier

Art Rotterdam

Wine Cheese Enjoy

Bright Brussels

6-9 February, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Like every year, the vibrant city of Rotterdam welcomes the country’s cultural prodigies at its famous art fair. Renowned galleries present and provide a platform for young, promising artists to show their work to the grand public. Enjoy their refreshing and rebellious style and you might even end up buying one of their masterpieces.

8-9 February, Moselle, Luxembourg Few marriages are as strong as the one between wine and cheese. In the Luxembourgian wine Walhalla that is the Moselle region, they celebrate this match made in heaven with a weekend-long degustation. Drive through its beautiful landscape, try local wines and cheeses at its respective producers and unravel the story behind their spectacular flavour.

13-16 February, Brussels, Belgium Not even the infamous Belgian winter cold can keep the people of Brussels inside during Bright Brussels. Spread around the city, 23 extraordinary light installations await you and guide the way for a great winter walk. With the glowing route accentuating the façades of the city’s iconic – as well as well-hidden – monuments, it won’t only be the cold that gives you goosebumps.

Photo: Unsplash

Comic Con. Photo: Miguel Discart

Bright Brussels. Photo: Visit.Brussels, Eric Danhier

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  71

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar Salon du Chocolat 14-16 February, Brussels, Belgium 8,000 square metres of cacao pleasure: that is the best way to describe the annual Salon du Chocolat. Located in the capital of chocolate, it is no surprise that this is the best place to find the finest pralines, bars and cups of hot cocoa. Belgium’s greatest pastry chefs and chocolatiers will be present, as well as models running the catwalk in chocolate couture.

Comic Con 22-23 February, Brussels, Belgium What the World Cup is to soccer fans, Comic Con is to film-, game- and comic-buffs. It is their annual shot to see a glimpse of their Hollywood heroes and to fraternise with like-minded fans. This year, the list of scheduled appearances is jam-packed with heroes from Hogwarts, the Shire, Westeros and a galaxy far, far away. Among many others, attendees will meet the actors behind Hogwarts’ caretaker Argus Filch, Hobbit Samwise Gamgee, priestess Melisandre and robots C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8.

Carnival of Binche. Photo: Mich Verbelen

Photo: Carnival of Maastricht

Carnival of Binche

Carnival of Maastricht

23-25 February, Binche, Belgium Though carnivals come in all colours and sizes in the Benelux, few are as iconic as the one in Binche. Besides the colourful floats and costumes, the traditional ‘Gilles de Binche’ steal the show. Folklore states that these masked men with feathers on their heads and stuffed orange suits fertilise the soil again and scare away demons. In 2003, UNESCO added this whimsical parade to their list of intangible cultural heritages.

23-25 February, Maastricht, the Netherlands The carnival of Maastricht is a full-option one. The three days of madness contain parades, floats, comedy, dances and – the biggest attraction of them all – ‘de zatte hermeniekes’ (the drunk harmonies). These brass bands parade through the city from one pub to the next, guiding the partygoers to their next pitstop. Symphonies are often lost on them, since loudness overrules all artistic aspirations. The carnival even grants awards to those bands for playing the most ‘off-tone’.

Carnival of Aalst 23-25 February, Aalst, Belgium Aalst is the home of ‘de voil jeanetten’, featuring grown men in trashy women’s clothing who often wear a lampshade on their head or push a stroller ahead of them. Together with the many satirical floats, they give shape to Belgium’s biggest carnival. Welcome to the temporary court of Prince Carnival.


Anima, Animals. Photo: Miyu Distributions

72  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

21 February – 1 March, Brussels, Belgium Being the home of drawn superstars like Tintin and the Smurfs, Brussels loves all that’s animated. During the annual Anima festival, all eyes are pointed at the white screen and the fabulous creations which the world’s animators have created for it; in its traditional, long form as well in a series of over 50 short films during the animation night. This bingewatching session will keep you awake in your cinema seat until the early hours.

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Courses de Strasbourg Europe

40 years of running in Strasbourg… TEXT: STEPHANIE UWALAKA   |  PHOTOS: ACSE

Well known for its stunning 12th-century gothic cathedral, Strasbourg is also home to the Association des Courses de Strasbourg (ACSE), which organises races open to all. Last year, the association attracted over 12,000 participants to its Strasbourg-Eurometropole running event, and one third of previous runners eagerly returned to the Strasbourg-Europe race. Although some participants are local, many attendees are from Alsace, Germany and further afield. The ACSE originally started in Strasbourg’s Office de Sport, but later evolved into an association. Its first run in 1980 had just 2,400 participants for a ten-kilometre run and marathon, but their races now gain great media attention with local press, television and radio. Aiming to raise the awareness for sustainable development, while involving local businesses and volunteers, the ACSE has made its 40th anniversary celebrations environmentally considerate. Not only will

each bag of recycled waste plant three trees, biodegradable cups and Strasbourg water will be used, and runners are being encouraged to use public transport and eliminate paper by making contact online. The children’s European race in April will encourage an active lifestyle and exhibit such a lifestyle’s health benefits, which is one of the social aims of the Association. It also hopes to widen young people’s perspective of Europe through its partnership with the European Council. To mark its 40th anniversary, the ACSE will have a party in May (Courses de StrasbourgEurométropole). To celebrate over the week-

end, there will be entertainment, the option of running, walking or rollerblading the routes, and a special ‘Silver Run’ for seniors. The routes will run from Parc de l’Orangerie to Parc de la Citadelle through the historic streets of central Strasbourg back to the starting point. The ACSE wants to celebrate its long-standing races, the historical and cultural heritage of Strasbourg itself, and strengthen friendly ties with European neighbours across the border.

Photo: Regionalverband, Eike Bock

Three countries, four cities, one experience TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND

QuattroPole is a network of four cities across the borders of Germany, Luxembourg and France. Uniting Luxembourg, Saarbrücken, Trier and Metz, since 2000 it has aimed to promote historical, economic and cultural diversity, as well as active multilingualism. Located no more than an hour away from one another, the four cities constitute an area of dense artistic and cultural concentration, and this proximity makes Quattropole an ideal long-weekend destination for curious travellers. From Roman ru74  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Luxembourg – a city of contrasts at the heart of old Europe

European unity, Luxembourg is now home to the Secretariat of the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, and the European Investment Bank, among others. Discovering the ‘EU’ side of Luxembourg is easy, with walking tours such as the Luxembourg, a European Capital or Schuman Circular Walk circuits.

As an international banking centre and home to major European institutions, Luxembourg is known as a modern, future forward capital. The birthplace of Robert Schuman, a statesman who was instrumental in the consolidation of

But the past has pride of place, too: the Old Town boasts a plethora of picturesque squares and charming alleyways. With long, stately boulevards as well as spacious public parks, the city easi-

ins to grand Baroque churches, wine fairs, Michelin-starred restaurants and richly adorned train stations, Quattropole may be one of Western Europe’s best-kept secrets.

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  QuattroPole

ly lends itself to being explored on foot. The so-called Wenzel Circular Walk is a scenic tour of the historic centre, and in an hour and a half takes visitors through the thousands of years that build the city’s past. Poised between tradition and innovation, like the city itself, Luxembourg’s cuisine is up there with the best of its French neighbours. With numerous Michelin-starred establishments offering variations on regional specialties, Luxembourg also offers a tempting wine selection that includes the famous Riesling as well as the local Champagne: the Crémant de Luxembourg.

Photo: TTM

Saarbrücken – a major city on a human scale First-time visitors may not immediately realise the full status of Saarbrücken on a regional and national level. The state capital of the Saar is also home to the prominent Saarland University and constitutes the region’s economic hub, yet it remains a relaxed, friendly city. Saarbrücken’s modest size makes for a pleasant concentration of leisurely areas – picturesque squares, scenic alleyways and green spaces come aplenty in Germany’s smallest major city. Architecture enthusiasts will doubtless visit the Ludwigskirche, one of Germany’s most notable Baroque churches (and that’s saying something). From there, a short stroll will take you the Saarbrücken Castle, a striking Baroque edifice with a history of evolution and transformation dating back to the 16th century. From there, you can cross the Alte Brücke toward the Park am Theater and take the scenic promenade back to the Bismarckbrücke (for culture lovers, the Saarlandmuseum’s Modern Gallery is right on the way). Since a day or two of exploring may leave you hungry, Saarbrücken is also famous for its rich culture of food and drink, a unique hybrid of haute cuisine and hearty working-class food. Examples of local delicacies include Schwenkbraten (pork neck steak, marinated and grilled), Dibbelabbes (a potato paste-based dish

Photo: QuattroPole, Tom Gundelwein

Photo: Frame & Work

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  75

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  QuattroPole

cooked in a heavy pan or in an oven) and Hoorische (potato dumplings).

Trier – between Wine and UNESCO Sites According to historians, the south-western city of Trier is the oldest in present-day Germany. Ancient Rome, in fact, had a foothold in the region, and already occupied a much earlier version of the city. The impressive architectural testament of the Romans constitutes much of its appeal: the colossal Porta Nigra (Black Gate), erected in the second century, is the largest extant Roman gate north of the Alps. It is part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. This site also comprises a second-century amphitheatre, three ancient bathing complexes and the oldest-standing bridge in Germany, also built by the Romans. The awe-inspiring St Peter’s Cathedral, built in the 13th century in the Roman Catholic style, was granted UNESCO status in 1986, along with the 23-metre Igel column. Beyond its Roman heritage, Trier has become a compelling city in its own right. Its typically German historic centre, with quaint houses and vivid colours, is a spectacle for the eye. But a visit to Trier is also an opportunity to sample one of the region’s finest products: wine. Perhaps influenced by its Roman ancestry, Trier has become a local centre for the drink: with frequent public showcases attended by some hundred local wine-makers from the Moselle and Ruwer region, Trier is sure to titillate the taste-buds of oenologists and amateurs alike.

Metz – a feast for the senses

Photo: Ville de Metz, Philippe Gisselbrecht

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Although not very famous internationally, Metz is one of France’s most aesthetically impressive cities. The city on the Moselle has harboured a dense cultural, architectural and musical heritage, and even a casual stroll around town can feel like embarking on a trip back a century or two. The 16th-century St-Etienne Cathedral, features not only a remarkable set of Gothic stained glass, but also evocative, dreamlike window designs by modernist painter Marc Chagall.

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  QuattroPole

Photo: QuattroPole, YAPH

The Centre Pompidou-Metz art centre, by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines, is one of Metz’s crowning jewels. Shigeru Ban, a Pritzker Architecture Prize recipient (one of the world’s premier architectural awards) designed the white museum roof in the shape of an Asian rice farmer. The nearby Imperial District offers splendid examples of early 20th-century revivalist German architecture. Even the train station, almost a museum in itself, showcases a collection of various styles: from Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque to Art Deco and Art Nouveau. Beyond the visual arts, Metz also has a reputation for the quality and scope of its classical music. Enthusiasts can indulge in the programme of the Opera-Théâtre (one of France’s oldest theatres) and the Cité Musicale-Metz, home to the prominent Orchestre National de Metz. Facebook: QuattroPole

Photo: Sabino Parente

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  77

Promotional art for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children starring Eva Green.

Nine of the best films shot in the Benelux TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER

With its beautifully preserved medieval towns, atmospheric castles and romantic waterways, the Benelux region has provided the perfect backdrop for some of cinema’s most unforgettable scenes. From dark comedies like In Bruges to Amsterdam-based romantic drama The Fault in Our Stars, we countdown some of our favourite films shot in the Benelux.

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Based on the best-selling book by Ransom Riggs, Tim Burton’s 2016 fantasy, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, stars Eva Green in the title role. After a long search, Burton and production designer Gavin Bocquet chose Torenhof Castle near Antwerp as the location for Miss Peregrine’s home. The beautiful chateau was used for exterior shots and for scenes in the dining room, parlour and kitchen. 78  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

2. Kursk (The Command) Directed by Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg, 2018 drama The Command is based on the true story of Kursk, a nuclear-powered Russian submarine that sank during a training exercise in the Barents Sea in 2000. The film stars Flemish actor Matthias Schoenaerts and is one of the biggest films ever produced in Belgium. Much of the film was shot there, with the underwater scenes being produced at the AED film studios in Lint, Antwerp province.

A behind-the-scenes look at the shooting of Kursk. Photo: Thomas Vinterberg

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3. Ocean’s Twelve With an A-list ensemble cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, 2014 thriller Ocean’s Twelve sees Danny Ocean (played by Clooney) and his team head to the Dutch capital to try and pull off a heist. The group stay at the city’s glamorous Pulitzer Hotel, with several key scenes taking place here. Should you desire, you can also follow in their footsteps by visiting the De Dampkring coffee shop and the vibrant Kalverstraat shopping street.

Brad Pitt (right), Matt Damon (centre) and George Clooney in Ocean’s Twelve. Photo: Warner Bros.

4. Colonia Inspired by true events, 2015 thriller Colonia stars Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl as Lena and Daniel, a young couple who become entangled in the Chilean military coup of 1973. It may be set in South America, yet many of the film’s most gripping scenes were actually shot in the Casemates du Bock — a network of tunnels that were built into rocks under Luxembourg City as part of the country’s original fortifications.

Many of the scenes in 2015 thriller Colonia were filmed in Luxembourg.

Shailene Woodley (right) and Ansel Elgort in The Fault In Our Stars.

5. The Fault in Our Stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort both received countless award nominations for their poignant performances in 2014 drama The Fault in Our Stars, which takes teenage cancer patients Hazel and Gus on a life-affirming trip to visit a reclusive author in Amsterdam. One of the film’s most romantic scenes was shot on an unassuming green bench by the Leidsegracht canal, which fans flocked to visit after the film’s release.

Shailene Woodley (right) and Ansel Elgort during the making of in The Fault In Our Stars. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Issue 74  |  February 2020  |  79

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Film

In Bruges stars Brendan Gleeson (left) and Colin Farrell. Photo: Universal Studios, Focus features and other respective production studios and distributors.

Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl.

Scarlett Johansson (right) and Cillian Murphy in Girl with a Pearl Earring.

6. The Danish Girl

7. In Bruges

8. Girl with a Pearl Earring

Starring Eddie Redmayne in the title role and Alicia Vikander as her wife Gerda Wegener, Tom Hooper’s Oscar-winning drama The Danish Girl follows Danish artist Lili Elbe’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer. Hooper was greatly inspired by Brussels’ Art Nouveau architectural heritage, with locations including the magnificent Horta Museum serving as a backdrop in the film.

The dark comedy In Bruges (2008) stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as hitmen Ray and Ken, who are banished to the beautiful Belgian city to hideaway. Thanks to a brilliant script and equally brilliant performances from Farrell and Gleeson, the film soon became a cult classic and acts as an unconventional love letter to one of Europe’s most well-preserved medieval cities.

Based on the novel by Tracy Chevalier and starring a young Scarlett Johansson, the 2003 film Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of a maid working in the house of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, who goes on to become the model for one of his most celebrated works. The Dutch city of Delft was the real-life hometown of Vermeer (1632–1675), although much of the filming took place in Belgium, Luxembourg and Amsterdam.

Carice van Houten in Zwartboek. Photo: Sony Pictures

9. Zwartboek (Black Book) Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s critically acclaimed World War II drama Black Book stars Carice van Houten as a Jewish singer who infiltrates the regional Gestapo headquarters for the Dutch resistance. The 2006 film was shot in various locations including Hardenberg, Giethoorn, The Hague, Delft, Dordrecht and Amsterdam, with the capital’s grand Tropenmuseum playing the role of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) headquarters. 80  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Girl with a Pearl Earring was filmed in various locations throughout the Netherlands.

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Columns


The torment of Bourgeois TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK

Arachnophobes beware. Standing proud at the entrance to Museum Voorlinden, on the outskirts of The Hague, is a giant 10-metretall spider. This one is not so ‘incy wincy’. The eight-legged creature, Maman, is one of the most famous of French-American artist Louise Bourgeois’ works. It looms tall, acting as gatekeeper to those visiting the artist’s survey exhibition To Unravel a Torment. Made from stainless steel, its spindly line-drawn legs bear the weight of small ribbed body, beneath which lies an egg sac, full of 17 marble eggs resting high in the air. This spider is a mother. Maman is symptomatic of Bourgeois’ interests, with much of her work focused on family, the body, death and the unconscious. Her childhood was troubled, and she would delve into this traumatic well in order to create works.

Seeing art making as a therapeutic process, Bourgeois would explore themes in depth, with a wit and trademark daring that meant she never belonged to a particular movement. She was too real for the Abstract Expressionists, and too existential for the surrealists. Instead, she paved

a unique path that made her one of the 20th century’s artistic icons, and a feminist pioneer. The 40 works of sculpture and painting on show highlight a six-decade long exploration into some of the darker recesses of the human mind. Some works, like Maman, induce an almost physical response to them. However, lurking beneath the surface is something charming. In her own words, the artist “transforms hate into love”. And as the initial horror pales, the warmth and vulnerability of Louise Bourgeois begins to creep and crawl under your skin. To Unravel a Torment is on show at Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, until 5 May 2020.

Louise Bourgeois,To Unravel a Torment. Installation view Museum Voorlinden. Photo: Antoine van Kaam. Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland, Louise Bourgeois © The Easton Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/Pictoright, Amsterdam 2019

Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.

multiple accolades, including the World’s Best Abbey Pale Ale, at the 2009 World Beer Awards, for its saison. This is a top-fermented, unfiltered beer that undergoes secondary refermentation in the bot-

tle. Consequently, it can look a little cloudy when poured. It is dark amber in colour and rises to a white head. As you’d expect of a dry hopped ale, hoppy notes dominate the aroma, which has a floral undertone. The flavour is intense. Red fruits burst through and it feels hoppy on the tongue; it’s slightly tart, without being overly bitter, reminiscent of a fresh raspberry. As you might expect, this is a refreshing beer to savour after a lengthy walk. It pairs well with hearty, simple food, including British dishes such as pie and mash or cheese and onion pasties.



St Feuillien Saison is a Belgian farmhouse ale brewed in Le Rœulx, approximately 50 kilometres southwest of Brussels. Traditionally, this style of beer was brewed in the cooler months of the year for consumption in the summertime by labourers on Wallonian farms. As saison beer was intended to quench workers’ thirsts it tended to be of moderate strength. In recent years, craft brewers across the world have reinterpreted the style and stronger versions have come to market. St Feuillien’s saison is dry hopped and packs more alcohol than standard beers. The St Feuillien Brewery was founded in 1873 by Stéphanie Friart. Five generations on, it remains in the hands of the Friart family, who are members of the Belgian Family Brewers association. The brewery has been presented with 82  |  Issue 74  |  February 2020

Brewer: St Feuillien Alcohol content: 6.5 per cent Stuart Forster was named Journalist of the Year at the 2015, 2016 and 2019 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.